World stocks hit by US, Japan news
World stock markets have fallen, with trading thinned by year-end holidays and mixed economic news out of the US and Japan.
Benchmark oil hovered above 101 dollars per barrel while the dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
European stocks dropped in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.2% to 5,501.25, Germany's Dax was 0.9% lower at 5,839.98 and France's CAC-40 lost 0.4% to 3,092.01.
Wall Street also appeared set for a lower opening. Dow Jones industrial futures rose 0.2% to 12,199 while S&P 500 futures dipped 0.3% to 1,256.60.
Earlier in Asia, trading was subdued, as it typically is between the Christmas holiday and New Year.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2% to close at 8,423.62, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.6% to 18,518.67 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.9% to 1,825.12. Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost 1.3% to 4,088.80. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia were also lower.
Japan's industrial output dropped a seasonally adjusted 2.6% last month - the first decline in two months. But the negative news was mitigated by expectations of rebounding manufacturing and production this month and next, which helped to mute stock market losses.
The Shanghai Composite Index reversed course after early losses, rising 0.2% to 2,170.01. But the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index sank 0.5% at 849.76.
Some investors were "dumping shares" because Beijing has failed to take steps they expected to stimulate slowing economic growth, said Peter Lai, investment manager for DBS Vickers in Hong Kong.
On Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow Jones lost less than 0.1% to close at 12,291.35. The S&P 500 was up marginally to 1,265.43 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.3% to 2,625.20. US consumer confidence surged to an eight-month high, but home prices fell in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index. That report dampened investors' enthusiasm about a jump in consumer confidence to the highest level since April.