US economy worries, Nikkei plunge sends world stock markets lower

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

World stocks retreat as Nikkei slides 3.6 percent

BANGKOK — World markets sank Tuesday as a strong yen pummeled Japanese shares to a 16-month low and pessimism about the U.S. economy intensified.

The losses in Asia and Europe came after Wall Street fell Monday on more signs of slowing U.S. economic growth that got investors worried ahead of a key report on jobs later this week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average led declines, diving 325.20 points, or 3.6 percent, to 8,824.06.

Dragging on sentiment was the yen’s advance — which erodes the earnings of Japan’s vital exporters — and disappointment over the central bank’s decision to ease monetary policy by expanding a low-interest low program.

Markets had been hoping for direct action to contain the yen’s rise and revive a faltering Japanese economy.

In European trade, Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 1.1 percent to 5,146.63 after being closed for a public holiday on Monday. France’s CAC-40 shed 1 percent to 3,452.82 and Germany’s DAX was off 1 percent at 5,855.20.

Wall Street was also set for losses with Dow futures down 43, or 0.4 percent, at 9,938.00 and S&P futures lower by 4.3, or 0.4 percent, at 1,040.80.

Among other Asian bourses, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index retreated 1 percent to 20,536.49, South Korea’s Kospi dropped 1 percent to 1,742.75, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.1 percent to 4,404.20.

Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand also retreated.

Heavy selling hit tech shares, with Sony Corp. losing 3.7 percent and Panasonic Corp. down 2.5 percent in Tokyo. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. fell 2.6 percent.

In New York, the Dow fell 140.92, or 1.4 percent, to close at 10,009.73. A report Monday showed that personal incomes rose less than expected in July. That added to a series of discouraging economic indicators recently suggesting that growth could slow down in the second half of the year.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 15.67, or 1.5 percent, to 1,048.92, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 33.66, or 1.6 percent, to 2,119.97.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 84.29 yen from 84.54 yen late Monday. The euro rose to $1.2679 from $1.2661.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down $1.16 at $73.54 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 47 cents to settle at $74.70 a barrel on Monday.

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