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World stocks extend slide amid China concerns

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[January 27, 2010]  HONG KONG (AP) -- Asian stock markets dropped a sixth day Wednesday as concerns China's move to slow lending would hinder the global recovery continued to unsettle investors. European shares opened lower.

HardwareEvery major bourse in Asia traded in the red and European markets opened down 1 percent or more.

Oil prices lingered near $74 a barrel, while the dollar slipped against the yen and gained modestly against the euro.

Investors have been unable to shake their concerns that China's efforts to scale back lending to prevent overheating and asset bubbles will mean lower economic growth that impairs the global recovery.

Contributing to the market's jitters were U.S. plans to reform regulation of banks; investors will be paying close attention for any details about the proposal in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Wednesday night.

There was also general caution as U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers wrapped up a two-day meeting on interest rates. With the Fed expected to leave rates near zero, its assessment of the world's largest economy will be in focus.

As trading opened in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was off 1.4 percent, France's CAC-40 lost 0.9 percent and Germany's DAX shed 1.3 percent. Futures pointed to losses Wednesday on Wall Street. S&P futures dropped 2.2 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,085.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 73.20 points, or 0.7 percent, to 10,252.08, with the broader market hurt by heavy selling in Toyota shares. The world's No. 1 car company halted U.S. sales of eight models to fix a potentially dangerous gas pedal problem. Its shares tumbled 4.3 percent.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi declined 0.7 percent to 1,625.48. India's market retreated 2.1 percent, Australia's benchmark slid 1.6 percent and Taiwan's market fell 0.5 percent.

China's Shanghai market traded down 1.1 percent at 2,986.61 late in the session, as investors looked for signs the government was throttling the flow of lending.

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On Wednesday, China's Securities Times reported some banks were ordered to pull back loans to comply with this month's lending targets. That followed reports the government had again raised the amount of money banks must keep in reserve, a move aimed at dissuading lending.

Hong Kong bucked the broader selling for a while before capitulating, and the Hang Seng index retreated 76.26, or 0.4 percent, to 20,033.07.

Shares of Russian aluminum giant UC Rusal tumbled nearly 11 percent in their first day of Hong Kong trade. Its $2.2 billion initial public offering was clouded by concerns over the company's massive debts.


Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow fell 2.57, or less than 0.1 percent, to 10,194.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 4.61, or 0.4 percent, to 1,092.17. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 7.07, or 0.3 percent, to 2,203.73.

Oil prices fell in Asia. Benchmark crude for March delivery was down 26 cents to $74.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 55 cents to settle at $74.71 on Tuesday.

The dollar fell to 89.36 yen from 89.63 yen. The euro fell to $1.4039 from $1.4072.

[Associated Press; By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ]

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


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