World stock markets lower

World stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday as euphoria over the Federal Reserve’s massive stimulus faded, halting a rally that drove some Asian benchmarks to record highs.

Oil prices also fell following a string of gains, but gold reached a new high above $1,400 an ounce as some investors sought a safe haven. In currencies, the dollar fell against the yen but rose against the euro.

European bourses were mixed in early trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent to 5,857.72. Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent to 6,743.17 while France’s CAC-40 dropped 0.1 percent to 3,908.28. Wall Street also was headed lower, with Dow futures down 0.3 percent to 11,332.

Asian indexes didn’t fare much better. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average closed down 38.43 points, or 0.4 percent, to 9,694.49 with exporters pressured by the dollar resuming its fall against the yen.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1 percent to 24,710.60 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.8 percent to 4,740.7. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent to 1,947.46. Taiwan’s market also rose.

Chinese shares were mixed as caution stepped in over possible monetary policy moves to curb excess liquidity.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 24.51 points, or 0.8 percent, to end at 3,135. The Shenzhen Composite Index for China’s smaller, second exchange edged 0.3 percent higher to 1,380.59.

Gains in global stocks and commodities were extended last week after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its “quantitative easing” program to sink $600 billion into Treasurys over the next eight months to stimulate the sluggish economy.

Indexes in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have recently hit new highs while others have touched multiyear peaks.

But the rally began to run out of steam — by Friday in the U.S., and by Monday in Europe — amid a dearth of positive indicators that sent investors seeking whatever profits they could extract.

“I suspect that the cold reality at some point is going to set in — that although quantitative easing might help demand for financial assets, the fact is that the reason it’s needed is because economies are very weak. That was always going to prevent a very sustained bull market in equities,” said Peter Elston, a strategist with Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore.

Analysts said worries about Europe’s debt are also weighing on markets. Among other things, investors are fretting about the ability of the Irish government to push through more spending cuts in the face of weighty political opposition.

“There are serious structural problems in the West. You’ve got a lot of debt deleveraging that is going to continue to hold back economies,” Elston said.

A U.S. Labor Department report Friday of a better-than-expected increase in the number of new jobs did little to hold up the Dow Jones industrial average. It fell 37.24, or 0.3 percent, to close at 11,406.84 on Monday. It surged 2.9 percent last week after the Fed announced its stimulus plan.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 index fell 2.60, or 0.2 percent, to 1,223.25. The Nasdaq composite index continued to outperform other market measures, as it has done all year, edging up 1.07, or 0.04 percent, to 2,580.05.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 80.77 yen from 81.20 yen in New York late Monday. The euro fell to $1.3838 from $1.3849.

Benchmark oil for December delivery was down 33 cents at $86.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract settled up 21 cents at $87.06 on Monday.
Source: AP

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