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World stocks lower ahead of Bernanke's speech

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[August 27, 2010]  SHANGHAI (AP) -- World markets were mostly lower Friday as investors fretful over the pace of economic recovery awaited a speech later in the day by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and the latest data on the state of the U.S. economy.

GlobaHardwarel markets have been rattled in recent weeks by signs the global economic recovery is losing momentum. Bernanke's comments on the U.S. economy, the world's largest, may give investors some insight into how deep the slowdown will be.

After a mixed session in Asia, most European markets opened down.

Britain's FTSE 100 was off 22.04 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,133.80, France's CAC-40 shed 21.64, or 0.6 percent, to 3,453.39 and Germany's DAX fell 22.70, or 0.4 percent, to 5,889.88. Wall Street looked set to open little changed with Dow futures up 2 points at 9,969.00.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average recovered from early losses on news that Prime Minister Naoto Kan plans was meeting reporters to discuss how the government will handle the yen's surge in value. The Nikkei gained 84.58, or 1 percent, to 8,991.06.

A pledge by Japan's finance minister to work more closely with the central bank to curb the yen's rise helped boost exporters. Sentiment was buoyed, also, by the government's report Friday that the jobless rate in July fell to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent in June -- the first decline in six months.

Chinese investors resumed buying to boost the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index by 0.3 percent to 2,610.74. But the gains were capped by mixed earnings from major companies and uncertainty over whether the government will loosen tight credit policies as the economy slows.

Sentiment worldwide has been dampened by expectations the United States will revise down economic growth for the April-June quarter from an annual pace of 2.4 percent announced earlier.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.1 percent to 20,597.35 while South Korea's Kospi dropped less than 0.1 percent to 1,729.56. But shares in most other markets were higher, with Australia's S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3 percent to 4,370.10 and Taiwan's benchmark adding 0.4 percent to 7,722.91.

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In New York on Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 74.25 points, or 0.7 percent, to 9,985.81. The Dow had traded below 10,000 several times this week, but hadn't closed below that level since July 6.

With many indicators, including housing sales, pointing to a slowing economic recovery, investors are hoping Bernanke's speech may clarify how weak the U.S. economy is and what the Fed will do to revive it.

The U.S. is to release revised GDP data for the April-June quarter Friday.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 84.69 yen from 84.28 yen in New York late Thursday. The euro gained to $1.2714 from $1.2702.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 42 cents at $72.96 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 84 cents to settle at $73.36 on Thursday.

[Associated Press; By ELAINE KURTENBACH]

Associated Press writer Shino Yuasa in Tokyo and researchers Bonnie Cao and Ji Chen in Beijing and Shanghai contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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