BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets went into reverse Thursday as investors fretted that expectations for the Federal Reserve to announce new measures to boost the U.S. economy might not be met.
The Fed concludes a two-day policy meeting Thursday, and hopes have been high that it will choose bold action to jumpstart the world's No. 1 economy and reduce high unemployment.
"There is risk of disappointment in case the Fed surprises by not easing policy as much as the market expects," said Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia.
European stocks fell in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.1 percent to 5,775.26. Germany's DAX shed 0.3 percent to 7,323.32 and France's CAC-40 was 0.5 percent down at 3,526.50.
Wall Street appeared set for a lower open, with Dow Jones industrial futures slipping 0.2 percent to 13,338. S&P 500 futures also were down, by 0.2 percent to 1,436.30.
Asian stock markets turned in a mixed performance.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.4 percent at 8,995.15 after earlier surpassing 9,000 for the first time since Aug. 30. South Korea's Kospi rose marginally to 1,950.69. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1 percent to 20,047.63. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5 percent to 4,339.40.
Mainland Chinese shares also fell. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 percent to 2,110.38. The Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.4 percent to 888.49.
Tom Kaan, head of equity sales at Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong, said that while Bernanke strongly hinted last month that action would be taken, the real question was how big any steps might be.
"I think he doesn't have much choice," Kaan said. "The extent is what the markets are looking for. The size of it."
The biggest step would be a third round of bond purchases. In two previous bond-buying programs, the Fed bought more than $2 trillion of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities after the 2008 financial crisis.
Many analysts feel there is reason for optimism about the global economic outlook. The European Central Bank and the government of China are among authorities that have all announced steps to handle various economic crises or boost sluggish growth.
"The fact remains there is a lot of liquidity out there at low interest rates," Kaan said. "There is risk appetite. That is what is going to carry the equity markets through."
Stocks with business ties to Apple Inc. rose hours after the maker of the iPhone announced the upcoming release of a new version. Japan's Foster Electric jumped 5.6 percent and TDK Corp. was 3.7 percent higher, Kyoto News Agency reported.
Benchmark oil was down 3 cents to $96.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 16 cents to end at $97.01 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2918 from $1.2894. The dollar fell to 77.69 yen from 77.87 yen.
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