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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks get reality check from earnings, central banks in focus

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·4 min read
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* Global stock prices off record peak as supply woes hit earnings

* Yield curve flattens sharply as short yields rise after BoC move

* BOJ, ECB seen sticking to easy monetary policy

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Global stocks eased from record peaks as a stark reminder of supply chain snags in corporate earnings reports stalled their rally, while investors also looked to whether central banks may consider tightening monetary policy earlier than thought.

MSCI's gauge of world stocks, ACWI, dipped 0.05% in early Thursday trade, with Japan's Nikkei leading the loss with fall of 1.1%.

Mainland Chinese shares slipped 0.2% while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked down 0.1%.

On Wall Street overnight, the S&P 500 lost 0.51% from all-time high hit on Tuesday though the Nasdaq ended little changed, thanks to strong earnings from Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet.

Still, earning reports are also showing the largest U.S. manufacturers including General Motors, General Electric, 3M and Boeing face logistics headaches and higher costs due to global supply bottlenecks that are likely to persist into next year.

GM lost 5.4% following their earnings release on Wednesday.

In Asia, Japan's robot maker Fanuc tumbled 8.5% while IT conglomerate Fujitsu shed 9.8% as their earning showed a bigger than expected impact from chip shortages.

"The working assumption in the market has been that the impact of a chip shortage will fade by the end of year. But if it remains a problem next year, investors will surely feel less confident about the outlook," said Masayuki Murata, general manager of balanced portfolio investment at Sumitomo Life Insurance.

With global supply disruption fuelling worries about inflation, investors are keeping close eye on whether the world's central banks will look to reduce their generous pandemic stimulus measures more quickly.

The Bank of Canada ended its quantitative easing sooner than expected and signalled it could hike interest rates earlier than previously thought, as soon as April 2022.

The BoC's action fanned expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve, too, could move faster towards rate hikes, with Fed funds rate futures pricing in two rate hikes by end-2022.

The Fed is almost unanimously expected to announce tapering of its bond purchase at its policy meeting next week.

The two-year U.S. Treasuries yield rose to as high as 0.528% and last stood at 0.501%. At the start of October, it was around 0.26%.

In contrast, longer-dated yields fell in part as a tighter monetary policy is likely to tame inflation down the road.

The 10-year U.S. notes yields dropped to 1.545% , compared with a five-month peak of 1.705% touched a week ago.

Also helping to drive global bond yields lower was a plunge in UK Gilts yields after Britain's government cut its borrowing forecasts more than expected.

The 10-year Gilt yield fell 12.8 basis points on Wednesday, its biggest decline since March 2020, to 0.982%.

In foreign exchange markets, the Canadian dollar held firm at C$1.2362 per dollar following the BoC's surprise.

Other major currencies were on hold ahead of policy announcements from the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank later in the day, though no major changes are expected.

The yen stood at 113.73 per dollar, off its four-year low of 114.695 touched last week while the euro changed hands at $1.1600.

Oil prices fell after U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose more than expected, even as fuel inventories dropped and tanks at the nation's largest storage hub emptied further.

The bigger-than-expected rise in U.S. crude stocks gave some investors an impetus to unload long positions after strong gains in recent weeks brought both the Brent and U.S. crude benchmarks to multi-year highs.

Brent fell 1.8% to $83.07 per barrel, off Monday's seven-year high of $86.70 while U.S. crude fetched $81.25 per barrel, down 1.7% and off Monday's peak of $85.41, a seven-year high.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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