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World stock markets steady following sell-off

BANGKOK/HONG KONG -- World stock markets steadied Tuesday after a sell-off the day before.

There was a dearth of corporate or economic news for traders to digest and an insipid performance on Wall Street gave little direction either. Most indexes were flat or modestly higher after declining Monday on weak Chinese trade figures that reignited fears of a deeper slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy.

In early European trading, Germany's DAX gained 0.3 percent to 9,290.23. Britain's FTSE 100 was little changed, as was the CAC-40 in Paris. Wall Street futures also barely budged, with Dow futures at 16,414 and S&P 500 futures at 1,876.50.

“For the first time in some time, traders are choosing to focus much more intently on their local economies,” said IG's chief market strategist Chris Weston in a report.

“Asia is focusing predominantly on Asian issues, while Europe keeps a closer watch on developments in the Ukraine, and the U.S. on the narrative from various Fed members.”

In Asia's markets rose on Tuesday following big losses in the previous session but investors were largely unmoved by the Bank of Japan's decision to stand pat on its stimulus program.

The gains came despite a negative lead from Wall Street, while the dollar and euro edged up slightly against the yen.

Tokyo added 0.69 percent, or 103.97 points, to 15,224.11, Seoul climbed 0.48 percent, or 9.56 points, to close at 1,963.87 and Sydney was flat, edging up 2.3 points to 5,413.8.

Shanghai advanced 0.10 percent, or 2.09 points, to 2,001.16 and Hong Kong was almost unchanged, edging up 4.68 points to 22,269.61.

Global markets suffered a sell-off on Monday in response to a shock trade deficit in China that raised fears about the world's number two economy while Japan revised down its growth for 2013.

Investors had been waiting for the BOJ's two-day meeting to end expecting it to hold steady on monetary policy but hoping it would give some idea of its plans for the scheme.

The bank said it would keep its powder dry for now, adding the economy was picking up, despite slowing growth in the last quarter of 2013 and fears that a sales tax hike due next month will dent the recovery.

US, Russia Trade Barbs

Tensions in Ukraine also remain on the radar as world leaders struggle to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

On Monday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry refused to attend talks in Moscow after his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov snubbed Kiev's interim leaders.

Lavrov denounced Kerry for turning down an invitation to meet but Washington hit back that the time was not right as there was no sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin was prepared to negotiate.

Washington has led global efforts to defuse tensions since Russian troops deployed last week in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula following the ouster of the pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

Gold fetched US$1,348.55 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared with US$1,339.80 late Monday.

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