World stocks and oil fell for a second day on Tuesday and investors took refuge in the yen as a report that major U.S. banks may need more capital hit markets already dropping on fears of a swine flu pandemic.
European stocks and U.S. stock futures fell around 2 percent and the yen hit a one-month high against the dollar after the Wall Street Journal said U.S. regulators were pushing Bank of America
While most of the 19 banks that have been tested are expected to show less negative results, Citi and BofA seem to be in a shaky situation, prompting investors to pick up the yen on risk aversion as stocks fell, said Takashi Kudo, a director at NTT SmartTrade in Tokyo.
The World Health Organization raised its alert level on swine flu to a phase 4, one step closer to declaring the first flu pandemic in 40 years.
More countries have reported cases of the flu, and countries such as Australia and South Korea were testing for the virus.
But so far the deaths have not spread beyond Mexico, where the outbreak began and 149 people were killed.
This won't help sentiment, but for now, we're at the beginning of the outbreak and it's hard to anticipate the impact on the world economy, said Sebastien Barthelemi, analyst at Louis Capital Markets in Paris.
In the short term, airlines, hotel and oil companies are vulnerable, while drug companies could benefit from the situation.
The MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> fell 1.32 percent to 217.36, extending Monday's losses after seven weeks of gains, and the FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> fell 2.27 percent to 795.35.
Airline stocks were among the hardest hit, with British Airways
Futures on the U.S. S&P 500 dropped 1.8 percent.
Emerging market stocks fell 2 percent <.MSCIEF>, with export-dependent economies seen vulnerable to the spread of swine flu.
The traditionally safe-haven yen rose around 0.8 percent against the dollar to 95.85, just off earlier 1-month highs, and the same amount against the euro to 124.85, close to earlier 7-week highs.
Market players cut back on holdings of riskier higher-yielding currencies and commodities for a second day, taking profits on winning bets since the beginning of March that a global economic recovery was taking root.
Oil fell 2.73 percent to $48.77 a barrel and copper dropped over 2.5 percent to $4,235 a ton.
The Mexican peso steadied against the dollar, after hitting four-week lows. The peso plunged more than 5 percent on Monday.
Government bonds jumped as equity market losses accelerated.
The June Bund future rose 48 ticks to 123.26.
(Additional reporting by Satomi Noguchi in Tokyo and Blaise Robinson in Paris; Editing by Victoria Main)