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World stocks down, NYSE closes trading floor

BANGKOK -- World stock markets fell Monday as a mammoth storm heading toward the eastern U.S. caused the New York Stock Exchange and CME Group to shut trading floors.

Stocks ran out of momentum as traders refrained from bold moves amid global growth woes, while Hurricane Sandy — expected to join up with two other weather systems to combine into a superstorm by Tuesday — brought the potential for havoc as it bore down on major eastern U.S. cities such as New York and Washington.

CME, which operates the New York Mercantile Exchange, and NYSE said they would shut their New York trading floors Monday but electronic trading would continue.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent to 5,786.24. Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent to 7,200.70. France's CAC-40 shed 0.8 percent to 3,407.32.

Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, said in an email commentary that he expects lackluster trading this week, “until the U.S. election process has run its course and the investing world has a clearer picture as to who will be leading the U.S.”

The U.S. holds presidential elections on Nov. 6. President Barack Obama is seeking re-election against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Asian stock markets shed early gains and closed mostly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell marginally to 8,929.34 a day before the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) monetary policy committee was to meet, to grapple yet again with the country's longstanding economic doldrums.

“The faster-than-expected deterioration in the economy requires further policy support from the central bank,” analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in a market commentary. “Market expectations are building that the BOJ will ease policy again.”

South Korea's KOSPI ended barely changed at 1,891.52. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.1 percent to 4,476.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 21,511.05, with property shares leading the way down after the government said it would tamp down prices by imposing a 15 percent tax on nonresident buyers of Hong Kong properties.

“I think they blame the nonresident buyers, mainly from China's mainland, for driving up the prices of residential properties in Hong Kong,” said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong. “But any kind of control is not good. You will distort the market. The key is to increase the supply.”

The tax will also apply to companies to close a loophole that has seen companies buying up residences and then transferring them to nonresidents.

Hong Kong-listed Henderson Land Development Co. and Sino Land Co. both plummeted 6.4 percent.

Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Corp. fell 4.7 percent after lowering its forecasts for fiscal year 2013 due to a recent sales drop in China sparked by a territorial dispute.

On Wall Street on Friday, stocks finished mixed after investors found little to like in weak corporate earnings reports and news of only tepid growth in the U.S. economy in the third quarter.

The government estimated that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2-percent annual rate from July through September. That was better than the previous quarter but not strong enough to bring down the unemployment rate.

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