World stocks stall after Asian session


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The Independent Online

World stock markets mostly declined today against a backdrop of worries about global economic growth and Europe's debt crisis.

European Finance Ministers were meeting in Luxembourg but were not expected to take any strong action, even as yields on Spain's government debt have once again begun rising. Meanwhile, comments by the International Monetary Fund on the global economy "provide a gloomy backdrop" for the day, said Monument Securities analyst Marc Ostwald.

The IMF cut its estimates for global economic growth on Monday and warned that mature economies are at risk of recession.

European stocks dropped in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 fell more than 0.2 per cent to 5,827.72. Germany's DAX lost 0.4 per cent to 7,259.02 and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1 per cent at 3,403.30.

Wall Street, which absorbed the impact of the IMF report yesterday, appeared set to open only slightly lower, with Dow Jones Industrial index futures slipping less than a tenth of a per cent to 13,495.00. S&P 500 futures lost 0.1 per cent to 1,449.00. Aluminum maker Alcoa will be the first major company to report third quarter earnings after today's close.

In Asia, Chinese stocks bucked the negative trend and rose after the country's central bank injected 265 billion yuan ($42 billion) into the money supply in what analysts said was the second-biggest such move to date.

In addition, China's sovereign wealth fund said it would buy millions of shares in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by market capitalization.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5 per cent to 20,937.28 while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 per cent to 1,979.04. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 per cent to 4,505.30 on a positive consumer confidence report and hopes of upcoming interest rate cuts. Japan's Nikkei 225 index tumbled 1.1 per cent to 8,769.59, reopening after a holiday. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand also fell.

But mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2 per cent to 2,115.23, with financial and energy-related stocks gaining most.

Some analysts suggested that Asia still remains a bright spot in the global economy and that investors should keep the big picture in mind.

"Asia has grown nearly 32 (per cent) in the four years since Lehman Brothers collapsed," analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a market commentary. "That's how big Asia is today and how fast it is growing. A weak Europe will never be a plus for Asia. But it's never mattered less either."

Benchmark oil for November delivery was up 44 cents to $89.77 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed down 55 cents to $89.33 per barrel on the Nymex yesterday.

In currencies, the euro rose slightly to $1.2940 from $1.2928 late yesterday in New York. The dollar was slightly lower against the yen at 78.30 yen from 78.34 yen.