By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global equity markets declined on Monday as U.S. bond yields moved closer to the 3 percent level that has unsettled investors in recent months, while a fall in commodity prices pressured materials stocks.
U.S. bond prices fell, with the 10-year yield hitting its highest in over four years at 2.998 percent. Investors are worrying about the growing supply of government debt and accelerating inflation as oil and commodity prices have been rising in recent weeks.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 7/32 in price to yield 2.9752 percent, from 2.951 percent late on Friday.
"That three percent on the ten-year is hugely important and many very bright people have thought of three percent as the tipping point, so to speak, in terms of providing an alternative to equities and also providing a shift in the narrative," said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, in New York.
Commodities sold off after the United States hinted it might relieve sanctions on Russia's biggest aluminum producer United Company Rusal Plc .
Three-month aluminum on the London Metal Exchange , which hit a seven-year high on Thursday, was last down 8.7 percent at $2,254.50 a tonne. Shares of aluminum company Alcoa tumbled 13.51 percent.
Spot gold dropped 0.8 percent to $1,324.66 an ounce.
In equity markets, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> rose 0.35 percent. MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.29 percent.
The climb in debt yields helped push the U.S. dollar to a seven-week high, putting additional pressure on commodities and sending the euro and yen lower.
The dollar index <.DXY> rose 0.67 percent, with the euro down 0.65 percent to $1.2206. The Japanese yen weakened 0.97 percent versus the greenback at 108.70 per dollar.
Oil prices were volatile, with crude recovering from earlier losses. Investors juggled downward pressure after Iran squashed hopes that OPEC would extend its production cap pact with support on fears U.S. sanctions could dampen Iran's output.
U.S. crude settled up 0.35 percent at $68.64 per barrel and Brent was last at $74.71, up 0.88 percent.
U.S. stocks were little changed ahead of earnings from some big names in the technology and consumer discretionary sectors this week, with Amazon.com -0.6 percent and Microsoft flat.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 14.05 points, or 0.06 percent, to 24,448.89, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.14 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,670.28 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 17.53 points, or 0.25 percent, to 7,128.60.
All eyes are on U.S. earnings, with more than 180 companies in the S&P 500 reporting results this week. They include Alphabet , Facebook , Boeing and Chevron .
They are expected to report their strongest first-quarter profit gains in seven years, at around 20 percent. Of the 92 companies that have reported through Monday morning, 77 percent have topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Additional reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O'Brien)