World stocks stall without central bank moves

AP News
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Posted: Aug 27, 2012 7:28 AM
World stocks stall without central bank moves

PARIS (AP) — Global stock markets stalled Monday as the absence of stimulus action by central banks in the U.S. and China dismayed investors while signs of a weakening economy in Germany showed the increasing impact that the eurozone debt crisis is having.

Stock markets in London were closed for a bank holiday, dampening trading activity.

By midday in Europe, France's CAC-40 index was up 0.1 percent at 3,436.50 and Germay's DAX was up 0.2 percent at 6,981. Wall Street was also expected to lack momentum on the open — Dow futures were down 0.1 percent and the broader S&P 500 futures were up 0.2 percent.

Investors are growing cautious about the prospect of more economic stimulus from central banks in China and the U.S. and a financial stability plan from the European Central Bank.

The big events that could move the market lie ahead — U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech in Wyoming later this week.

In attendance of central bank statements, market sentiment was dented Monday by news that German business optimism, as calculated by the Ifo business survey, fell more than expected in August. "Enterprises are increasingly pessimist about their business development," said Hans-Werner Sinn, the head of the Ifo institute.

Economists have been warning that the debt crisis in the 17-country eurozone could eventually catch up with Germany.

Troubles elsewhere are starting to make themselves felt. Italy and Spain, the No. 3 and No. 4 eurozone economies, are in recessions as they try to reduce budget deficits and struggle to refinance their debts in bond markets.

So far, exports of cars and industrial machinery to stronger economies in Asia and the U.S. have helped Germany grow, while low unemployment has buoyed consumer spending at home. But those advantages may not be enough for much longer against the undertow from the eurozone crisis.

Meanwhile, Germany's economy minister rejected calls for Greece to get more time to implement reforms, saying Athens needs to respect the bailout deal reached with its international creditors.

"What the Greeks have asked for, half a year or two years, that's not doable," Philipp Roesler said in comments to ZDF public television on Sunday.

The question of how to avert a Greek debt default, which could spark a chain reaction among other ailing European economies, has preoccupied EU leaders as they return from their traditional summer break.

French President Francois Hollande urged Greece on Saturday to do more to show its commitment to reforms, and offered the country no immediate hope for relief from its current regime of painful austerity measures. Like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hollande said decisions on Greece need to wait for a report by debt inspectors that is due in late September at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the respected German weekly Der Spiegel reported in its latest edition that Merkel wants EU leaders to forge ahead with deeper political integration within the unwieldy 27-nation bloc.

In Asia, markets were unsettled after Apple's court victory in a high-stakes patent dispute sent shares of Samsung Electronics into a tailspin.

After more than three weeks of trial in the U.S. and two days of deliberations, the nine-person jury said Friday that Samsung copied Apple's iPhone and iPad and ordered the South Korean firm to pay more than $1 billion in damages.

Samsung said it will ask the judge in the Northern District Court of California in San Jose to overturn the jury's verdict and will appeal the decision to a higher court.

The verdict battered shares of Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of smartphones, memory chips, display panels and televisions. It plunged 7.5 percent in Seoul. South Korea's benchmark Kospi fell 0.2 percent to 1,917.87.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.4 percent to 19,798.67. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, and mainland China also retreated. Japan's Nikkei 224 index rose 0.2 percent to 9,085.39 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.1 percent to 4,343.70.

Benchmark crude for October delivery rose $1.13 to $97.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 12 cents to finish at $96.15 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2521 from $1.2519 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.68 yen from 78.70 yen.

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Pamela Sampson in Bangkok and Youkyung Lee in Seoul, South Korea contributed to this article.