* European stocks down 0.4 percent

* Pound unmoved after EU sets new Brexit deadline in Oct

* Euro lacks momentum as ECB minutes confirm dovish stance

* Easter holidays and Japan’s 10-day Golden Week loom

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Tom Wilson

LONDON, April 11 (Reuters) – World stock markets nudged away from six-month highs on Thursday as investors weighed warning signs over growth from major central banks and as concern over protectionism rumbled, with the dollar and euro holding steady.

Sterling also traded flat after European Union leaders gave Britain another six months to leave the bloc, with the latest pause in the Brexit process turning investors’ focus to the health of the British economy.

European markets made a subdued start, mirroring a disappointing day for Asian bourses that broke four days of gains. European stocks fell 0.4 percent, with bourses in London and Frankfurt losing ground, though Paris held steady.

Equities and other risky assets have been volatile this year, while bonds have rallied over worries of a recession in the United States and the risk of a sharper slowdown in other major economies including the euro zone.

Against that backdrop, many central banks have taken a dovish policy twist, pivoting away from moves towards interest rate hikes.

The U.S. Federal Reserve will likely leave rates unchanged this year, minutes from its policy meeting last month showed, given risks to the U.S. economy from financial conditions and protectionist trade policies.

The European Central Bank maintained its loose policy stance on Wednesday, highlighting threats to global growth and raising the prospect of more support being pumped into the struggling euro zone economy.

Looming in the background have been concerns of a retreat to protectionism, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening new tariffs on European Union while the Sino-U.S. trade dispute rumbles on.

The world’s two biggest economies have largely agreed on a mechanism to police any trade agreement they reach, including establishing new “enforcement offices,” U.S. said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with talks due to resume on Thursday.

“We do expect U.S. growth to remain relatively tepid this year compared to what we saw last year, and it will probably lose further momentum as we head towards the end of the year,” said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets

MSCI’s world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, fell 0.1 percent, pulling away from six-month highs hit this week.

The mood was also cautious ahead of a run of disrupted trading weeks in major markets. The Easter holidays are ahead, and Japan is due for an unprecedented 10-day break from late April to mark the ascension of its new emperor – the longest hiatus ever for the country’s share and bond markets.

DOLLAR FIRM, STERLING STEADY

After the dovish monetary signals, the dollar hovered near two-week lows and the euro was trading flat.

Sterling was also struggling for direction after European Union leaders extended the deadline for Britain to leave the bloc to October 31.

That represented more time than Prime Minister Theresa May says she needs, but less than many in the bloc wanted – thanks to fierce resistance from France.

Sterling was unchanged at $1.3087, staying within the tight trading range it has held to during the past month or so.

With markets now judging the risk of Britain crashing out of the EU as lower, the focus of traders will turn – for the coming months at least – to the underlying state of the British economy, said Thu Lan Nguyen, FX strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

“People have been focused on Brexit… In the short-term, maybe these investors or traders will look more at the economic fundamentals,” she said.

Oil prices were dragged down by surging U.S. crude stockpiles and record production, while economic concerns cast doubt over growth in demand for fuel. International benchmark Brent futures were at $71.52 per barrel at 0642 GMT, down 0.3 percent.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets, please click on: 5 (Reporting by Tom Wilson)

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