LONDON: Stock markets were lower and the dollar fell on Tuesday as investors nervously awaited the release of key US inflation data later this week, traders said.
If the data, scheduled for publication on Wednesday, came in above analysts' forecasts, the markets could enter into a sharp sell-off, analysts warned.
With inflation already at the highest level in 40 years, expectations are growing that further monetary tightening by the world's major central banks could go too far and tip the global economy into recession.
The inflation data "could effectively set the mood for the rest of the summer," said OANDA analyst, Craig Erlam.
"That seems quite dramatic, but if we fail to see a drop in the headline rate... it could really take the wind out of the sails of stock markets as it would be very difficult for the (US Federal Reserve) to then hike by anything less than 75 basis points in September," the expert said.
The US central bank has already raised borrowing costs by three-quarters of a percentage point twice in recent months in a bid to tame runaway prices.
Swiss quote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya said the recent drop in energy and commodity prices "should have a cooling effect... but higher labour costs could keep inflation sticky at undesirably high levels".
Oil prices rose, but remain around six-month lows as recession fears mount and investors fret over the impact on demand.
The markets are also keeping an eye on Iran nuclear talks after the European Union submitted a "final text" at negotiations to salvage a 2015 deal.
An agreement could open the way for Tehran to resume sales of crude on international markets, partly filling the gap left by the ban on Russian exports following the attack on Ukraine.
Edward Moya, analyst at OANDA trading group, said "it seems unlikely a breakthrough will happen anytime soon.
"Tehran seems like they are willing to negotiate, but an imminent decision to agree to the EU's proposal seems unlikely", he said.
Key figures at around 13:35 GMT -
New York - Dow: Down 0.1 per cent at 32,810.74 points
London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,489.00
Frankfurt - DAX: Down 1.1 per cent at 13,543.98
Paris - CAC 40: Down 0.4 per cent at 6,499.27
Euro STOXX 50: Down 0.9 per cent at 3,723.17
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Down 0.9 per cent at 27,999.96 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: Down 0.2 per cent at 20,003.44 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 per cent at 3,247.43 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0242 from $1.0194 Monday
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2111 from $1.2079
Euro/pound: UP at 84.57 pence from 84.35 pence
Dollar/yen: Down at 134.96 yen from 134.98 yen
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 per cent at $97.44 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 per cent at $91.64 per barrel. -- Reuters