World stocks slipped below an earlier three-week high Wednesday while top-rated government bonds rose as a weak start to the U.S. earnings season and Slovakia's rejection of a plan to expand the euro zone rescue fund kept investors nervous.
Caution ahead of the European Union's bank recapitalization plan due later Wednesday, designed to cushion the impact of a possible Greek default on the region's banks, also encouraged investors to pause after a five-day rally in world stocks.
Although Slovakia is still expected to enact the measure by the end of this week, the twist highlighted the difficulty in forging a united response to the worsening sovereign debt crisis in a 17-member currency zone.
Alcoa kicked off the U.S. third-quarter earnings season with a weak note. The largest U.S. aluminum producer's shares fell after an economic slowdown hurt metal demand, denting its profit and sales.
JP Morgan and Google are due to report their earnings later in the week.
Caution is still the watchword, said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
But we can't read too much into just one set of results. Additionally, there is still hope that Slovakia will pass the expansion of the bailout fund in the very near term.
MSCI world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> fell 0.1 percent. The benchmark index is now 11 percent above a 15-month low hit earlier in October after a five-day rally.
European stocks <.FTEU3> fell 0.7 percent while emerging stocks <.MSCIEF> rose 0.3 percent, thanks to a rebound in Chinese shares <.SSEC>.
U.S. crude oil fell 0.3 percent to $85.53 a barrel. Bund futures rose 27 ticks.
The dollar <.DXY> was steady against a basket of major currencies. The euro was also broadly unchanged on the day at $1.3646.
(Reporting by Natsuko Waki; Editing by Toby Chopra)