World shares down amid Japan confidence drop

World stock markets lackluster as Japan business confidence falls 

On Wednesday December 15, 2010, 4:24 am EST

BANGKOK (AP) -- World markets were mostly lower Wednesday amid deteriorating sentiment among Japanese companies that underlined the slowdown in the world economic recovery.

In opening European trade, France's CAC 40 was off 0.7 percent at 3,877.51 and Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent to 5,864.30. Germany's DAX shed 0.7 percent to 6,979.03.

Wall Street was set to fall with Dow futures down 44 points, or 0.4 percent, at 11,377. Broader S&P futures declined 5.6, or 0.5 percent, to 1,231.20.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.1 percent to 10,309.78.

The Bank of Japan's quarterly "tankan" survey of business confidence showed that the key index for large manufacturers fell for the first time in seven quarters. Companies surveyed also expect sentiment to keep dropping in the months ahead amid worries about a persistently strong yen and slowing global demand.

Markets across the region were mostly down, with benchmarks stuck in narrow ranges.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 2 percent to 23,975.35 and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.5 percent to 2,911.41. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added less than 0.1 percent to 4,767.80 and South Korea's Kospi reversed losses to close up 0.4 percent at 2,017.48.

Elsewhere, benchmarks in India, Singapore and Indonesia were lower while Taiwan and New Zealand gained.

In New York Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.98, or 0.4 percent, to 11,476.54. after retail sales rose for the fifth straight month and a survey showed that large companies intend to hire more workers.

Retail sales jumped 0.8 percent in November, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. A survey from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of big U.S. companies, showed that 45 percent of executives say they expect to add workers over the next six months.

The broader S&P 500 rose 1.13, or 0.1 percent, to 1,241.59. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 2.81, or 0.1 percent, to 2,627.72.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 83.81 yen from 83.83 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro slipped to $1.3314 from $1.3351.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 57 cents at $87.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 33 cents to settle at $88.28 on Tuesd