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World stocks down ahead of US key growth reports

MUMBAI/HONG KONG--World stock markets were mostly down Thursday ahead of U.S. government reports on jobs and economic growth.

Expectations the data would paint a mixed picture of the world's biggest economy instilled caution among investors.

In early European trading, Germany's DAX was down 0.1 percent at 9,933.78 and France's CAC 40 edged down 0.2 percent to 4,522.77. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,870.10.

With key U.S. economic data due to be released, including the second estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product, dealers were keeping to the sidelines after enjoying a healthy pick-up on Wednesday.

But futures pointed to modest gains on Wall Street after trading lower for the first time in five days Wednesday. Dow futures were up 0.1 percent to 16,647.30 and S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent to 1,911.80, and the Nasdaq fell 0.28 percent.

The revision to first-quarter U.S. growth due later in the day is likely to show a 0.7 percent contraction in the economy, Credit Agricole analyst Daniel Lee said in a commentary. Claims for unemployment benefits will also be released.

“Although the jobless claim numbers are likely to improve, the downward revision of U.S. GDP will further dampen the market mood,” he said. Still, some analysts believe that U.S. growth is bouncing back in the current quarter.

Asian stock markets were mostly lower on Thursday as investors took a breather after the previous day's rally, taking their lead from a retreat on Wall Street.

The euro continued to face pressure from the dollar and the yen ahead of next week's European Central Bank board meeting that many expect will see an easing of monetary policy.

Tokyo reversed earlier losses to end higher for a sixth straight session. The Nikkei edged up 10.77 points to 14,681.72, while Sydney fell 0.14 percent, or 7.68 points, to 5519.5 and Seoul lost 0.24 percent, or 4.80 points, to close at 2,012.26.

Shanghai shed 0.47 percent, or 9.63 points, to 2,040.60 and Hong Kong lost 0.30 percent, or 69.89 points to 23,010.14.

Investors are also waiting for the release Monday of HSBC's closely watched purchasing managers index (PMI) of manufacturing activity from China, the United States and Europe, hoping for signs of further improvement.

China is also due to unveil its own official PMI on Sunday.

Gold fetched US$1,254.15 an ounce at 1040 GMT compared with US$1,265.08 late Wednesday.

In other Asia markets:

— Bangkok gained 0.41 percent or 5.72 points to 1,408.51.

Thai Airways International rose 5.88 percent to 14.40 baht, while Bangchak Petroleum dropped 2.46 percent to 29.75 baht.

— Kuala Lumpur's main stock index added 4.96 points or 0.27 percent to 1,876.62.

Public Bank gained 0.7 percent to 20.62 ringgit, while Axiata Group rose 1.2 percent to 6.90.

— Mumbai fell 1.31 percent or 321.94 points to end at 24,234.15 points.

Infosys slid 7.81 percent to 2,924.30 rupees and Wockhardt tumbled 7.69 percent to 592.80 rupees.

— Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.88 percent, or 28.87 points, at 3,300.71.

DBS Bank gained 0.71 percent to SG$16.98 while oil rig maker Keppel Corp was up 0.56 percent to SG$10.72.

— Wellington was flat, nudging up 1.7 points to 5,183.16.

Air New Zealand added 0.46 percent to NZ$2.175 and Telecom was down 0.18 percent at NZ$2.72.

— Manila closed 1.64 percent lower, shedding 111.21 points to 6,676.67.

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Traders Peter Tuchman, left, and Sal Suarino gather with others at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, May 27.(AP

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