World stocks stall after Asian session

TOBY STERLING, AP Business Writer

AMSTERDAM -- World stock markets mostly declined Tuesday 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 percent to 5,827.72. Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent to 7,259.02 and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1 percent at 3,403.30.

Wall Street, which absorbed the impact of the IMF report Monday, appeared set to open only slightly lower, with Dow Jones Industrial index futures slipping less than a tenth of a percent to 13,495.00. S&P 500 futures lost 0.1 percent to 1,449.00. Aluminum maker Alcoa will be the first major company to report third quarter earnings after Tuesday'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 percent to 20,937.28 while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 1,979.04. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 (percent) 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 on Monday.

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