By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stocks were down for the fourth day in a row on Tuesday, but strong economic growth in Germany boosted the euro to an almost three-week high.
Wall Street was lower on weak oil prices, uncertainty about U.S. tax policy and the economy's ability to deal with more interest rate hikes. European stocks fell to a two-month low.
U.S. Treasury two-year note yields climbed to a nine-year peak while long-dated debt yields fell, flattening the yield curve flattened for a second straight day, while investors braced for a Federal Reserve December rate hike.
In Germany a 0.8-percent third-quarter growth reading beat forecasts and showed the economy expanding at annualised rates of more than 3 percent.
"It's been a euro trade today, and it's stronger against just about everything," Brad Bechtel, managing director FX at Jefferies in New York, said. "The numbers out of Germany were pretty good last night."
The dollar index <.DXY> fell 0.45 percent, with the euro
On Wall Street the defensive utilities sector had the strongest showing while the energy sector was among the weakest.
"You're at the end of the earnings season, economic data is all distorted because of the hurricanes, I don't think there is going to be any clear picture until we get a firm yes or no for the tax bill," Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 55.29 points, or 0.24 percent, to 23,384.41, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 7.42 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,577.42 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 19.04 points, or 0.28 percent, to 6,738.56.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> lost 0.57 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.18 percent.
Monetary policy was also on traders' minds with the heads of the U.S., European, British and Japanese central banks attending a European Central Bank conference in Frankfurt.
The U.S. two-year yield
Benchmark 10-year notes
The mood in Asia was gloomy after China's retail sales in industrial output data missed market expectations.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> dipped 0.4 percent in its third consecutive day of losses. Japan's Nikkei <.N225> was unchanged after four sessions of losses.
Oil declined on Tuesday for a third day as evidence of rising U.S. output and a gloomier outlook for demand growth in a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) weighed on prices.
(Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York, Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, Marc Jones in London, Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Nick Zieminski)