World stocks mixed as Greece outweighs US recovery

March 20, 2012 - 6:15 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets were mixed Monday as doubts about Greece's ability to follow through with tough economic reforms required under an international bailout overtook good news about the U.S. economy.

Benchmark oil rose fell below $107 per barrel while the dollar was higher against the euro but lower against the yen.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent to 5,941.15. Germany's DAX dropped 0.6 percent to 7,114.64 and France's CAC-40 lost 0.7 percent to 3,568.63.

Wall Street was poised to fall, with Dow Jones industrial futures down 0.3 percent to 13,130 and S&P 500 futures slipping 0.3 percent to 1,294.30.

Debt-loaded Greece recently qualified for a second multibillion dollar bailout after its private creditors took significant losses on their bond holdings to avoid losing even more money in a Greek bankruptcy. Now, new doubts are emerging about whether Greece will be able to deliver on austerity promises that were part of the bailout deal.

"Officials remain concerned about the ability of Athens to politically deliver on the tough economic-overhaul policies, especially considering that the forthcoming elections in Athens may mean new leaders aren't as committed to reforms," Stan Shamu, market analyst with IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia said in an email.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 1 percent to 21,115.29 as falling home prices in China and its weak trade in the first two months of 2012 kept investors' verve in check.

New home prices dropped in 45 Chinese cities in February, the official Xinhua News agency said, the result of government policies intended to cool property speculation.

Evergrande Real Estate Group lost 3.7 percent, and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by market value, lost 1.5 percent.

Further evidence from the U.S. last week that its economic recovery is gaining strength buoyed stocks elsewhere in Asia. The U.S. is a crucial market for the region's exporters.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 8.3 percent this year, and the Nasdaq on Friday broke through 3,000 for the first time since the dot-com days more than a decade ago.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 finished higher for the fifth session in a row and recorded its highest close since a disastrous earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The index gained 0.1 percent to 10,141.99.

South Korea's Kospi index added 0.6 percent to 2,047 and Australia's S&P ASX/200 rose 0.3 percent to close at 4,290.80. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia fell.

In mainland China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,410.18. The Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.1 percent to 993.75.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 32 cents to $106.74 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.95 to finish at $107.06 per barrel.

The euro fell to $1.3153 from $1.3171 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 83.08 yen from 83.36 yen.

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AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.