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World stocks slide amid caution; China off 2.6 pct

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[August 25, 2009]  LONDON (AP) -- World stocks dropped, with Europe taking its cue from a 2.6 percent slump in China's main index, as investors became uneasy over recent gains and looked to U.S. data later Tuesday for more direction.

Most world markets have risen for three straight days, so considering a lack of indicators from Europe, some profit-taking was to be expected, analysts said.

Germany's DAX was down 22 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,497.75 while Britain's FTSE 100 fell 19.21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,877.02. France's CAC-40 dropped 12.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,640.01.

The losses came after the sharper drop in Shanghai, where investors were unsettled by comments from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who said his country faced new economic problems and that stimulus measures will be left in place because the recovery lacked a solid foundation.

Analysts said volumes were thin and trading volatile, signs of uncertainty about the market's near-term path.

"The sentiment is changing constantly right now because many investors are still worried if the liquidity and fundamentals still support these prices," said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "There's a lack of confidence and direction."

Markets will be looking to U.S. data later Tuesday for more direction.

The Conference Board will publish its measure of U.S. consumer confidence for August. Stocks were battered earlier this month after a survey suggested U.S. households' spending -- which accounts for a massive 70 percent of the U.S. economy and 20 percent of the global economy -- will not recover as quickly as expected.

Also due Tuesday are a few measures of U.S. house prices, including the Case Shiller index.

Daragh Maher, analyst at Calyon, said markets may recover by the time Wall Street opens, as "occasional bouts of nervousness have not proven very durable or painful" recently.

"The bigger picture remains one of a gradual improvement in the global economy," with investors cautious about assuming a more rapid recovery, he said.

"A changeable market mood looks set to continue well past the summer doldrums."

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Elsewhere in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average lost 83.69 points, or 0.8 percent, to 10,497.36.

The Shanghai Composite Index slid as much as 5 percent at one point before paring losses. It closed down 77.63, or 2.6 percent, at 2,915.80, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.5 percent at 20,435.24.

South Korea's Kospi lost 0.7 percent, Taiwan's market edged down 0.4 percent and India's Sensex was up 0.3 percent.

Trade was lackluster overnight in the U.S.

The Dow Jones index rose 3.32 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 9,509.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.56, or 0.1 percent, to 1,025.57, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 2.92, or 0.1 percent, to 2,017.98.

Wall Street futures suggested a timid open on Tuesday. Dow futures were up 15 points at 9,486 while S&P futures were up 2.5 points at 1,027.00.

Crude oil prices fell in European trade, with the benchmark crude for October delivery down 53 cents at $73.84. The contract gained 48 cents overnight.

The dollar weakened to 94.27 yen from 94.48 yen. The euro fell to $1.4293 from $1.4297.

[Associated Press; By CARLO PIOVANO]

Associated Press writer Jeremiah Marquez in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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