European stock markets fell Monday amid concerns Wall Street will open lower later and disappointment that the world leaders' summit in Washington over the weekend did not yield more concrete proposals for a new international financial framework.
The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 64.13 points, or 1.5 percent, at 4,168.84, while Germany's DAX was 85.56 points, or 1.8 percent, at 4,624.68. The CAC-40 in France was down 58.26 points, or 1.8 percent, at 3,233.21.
Earlier, Asian markets closed relatively flat despite confirmation Japan slipped into recession in the third quarter of the year for the first time since 2001.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average closed 60.19 points higher, a 0.7 percent gain, at 8,522.58 after trading as high as 8767.98 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gave up early gains to dip 0.1 percent to 13,529.53.
Wall Street is expected to open lower after the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 3.8 percent Friday following another session of volatile trading. Dow futures fell 71, or 0.85 percent, to 8,300, while Standard & Poor's 500 futures fell 4.70, or 0.6 percent, to 856.80.
U.S. traders were nervously waiting to see whether the troubled U.S. automobile industry would get a bailout. Senate Democrats, who plan to introduce legislation Monday, want to use part of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout to help prop up Detroit's Big Three carmakers: General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. A vote was expected as early as Wednesday.
In the meantime, the market will be assessing third-quarter results from retailers Target Corp. and Lowe's Cos. After last week's Commerce Department report showing a 2.8 percent decline in retail sales for October, investors are not optimistic about the health of the average consumer.
The principal focus of attention for markets as the new week kicked off was the meeting of the G-20 world leaders in Washington. Though they provided a symbolic show of unity between rich and emerging nations, few concrete reform measures were announced.
Detailed plans for reform of the IMF and other organizations will be tabled at a follow up meeting scheduled for April in London and pledges on cooperation over the use of government spending or tax cuts were loosely worded in the summit's communique.
"The meeting of the G-20 at the weekend could ultimately be seen as a defining moment in the history of global financial markets but what the meeting is unlikely to remembered for, however, is the turning point in the current financial and economic crisis," said Neil Mellor, an analyst at Bank of New York Mellon.
Analysts said there was very little on the economic front Monday to prompt another bout of stock selling but sentiment remains fragile given mounting concerns about the state of the world economy.
"While equity markets have been stable over recent days and could continue to trade sideways in the near-term, risk aversion remains an underlying theme," said Hans Redeker, an analyst at BNP Paribas.
Japan became the latest country overnight to officially enter a recession. Official figures showed that the world's second-largest economy shrank an annual pace of 0.4 percent in the July-September quarter, meaning the country now joins the 15 nation euro-zone as officially in recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction.
But with many companies having already announced significant downgrades to earnings forecasts, the Japanese market took the news of a second straight quarter of economic contraction in its stride.
Elsewhere in Asia, mainland China's Shanghai Composite index rose 2.2 percent, but Australia's main index slid 2.5 percent and India's Sensex tumbled 4.4 percent. India's Sensex was down 0.2 percent.
Oil prices fell below $56 a barrel Monday as news that Japan fell into recession highlighted investor fears that a global economic slowdown will hurt crude demand. By midday in Europe, light, sweet crude for December delivery was down $1.23 to $55.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.20 Friday to settle at $57.04.
The dollar was 0.6 percent lower at 96.44 yen, while the euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.2650.
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