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European stocks open unevenly, Asian shares slip

LONDON/HONG KONG--Leading European stock markets opened on an uneven note on Thursday, with the FTSE-100 index in London falling 0.11 percent or 7.84 points from the Wednesday closing level to 6,831.03 points.

Analysts said that a downgrading for world economic growth prospects by the World Bank on Wednesday, and conflict in Iraq, was weighing on sentiment.

In Frankfurt, the DAX index was showing a slight opening gain of 0.02 percent to 9,952.01 points, pulled down by Lufthansa stock on Wednesday and going below the 10,000 mark.

In Paris, the Cac-40 index was also ahead by 0.02 percent or 0.77 points to 4,555.88.

Markets sank in Asian trade Thursday as Wall Street's record-breaking streak came to an end, while Tokyo was hit by a stronger yen as investors looked ahead to a Bank of Japan policy meeting.

Tokyo lost 0.64 percent, or 95.95 points, to finish at 14,973.53 and Sydney fell 0.46 percent, or 25.19 points, to 5428.8, while Seoul eased 0.15 percent, or 3.02 points, to 2,011.65.

Hong Kong slipped 0.35 percent, or 82.27 points, to 23,175.02 and Shanghai eased 0.16 percent, or 3.24 points, to 2,051.71.

Investors stepped back after global markets enjoyed a rally at the start of the week in response to upbeat data from the United States, China and Japan.

While there was a certain amount of profit-taking, analysts suggested some of the losses could be attributed to the World Bank's decision to trim its 2014 global growth forecast to 2.8 percent from a January estimate of 3.2 percent.

Four-day Dow Streak Ends

Regional dealers were given a negative lead from New York, where all three main indexes ended lower.

The Dow snapped a four-day streak of all-time highs, closing down 0.60 percent to 16,843.88.

The S&P 500 fell 0.35 percent, and the Nasdaq eased 0.14 percent.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said the World Bank report “sent a sorry signal to investors.”

He also cited the surprise defeat of House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary battle to a Tea Party-backed candidate. Cantor “was one of the biggest friends of Wall Street and the election of somebody openly antagonistic to Wall Street” sparked worries, Ablin said.

Japan Leads Retreat in Asia

Japan's Nikkei led Thursday's retreat in Asia as the yen held on to its New York gains against the dollar.

In the afternoon the greenback was worth 102.07 yen, against 102.03 yen late in New York afternoon, but well down from 102.27 yen in Tokyo earlier Wednesday.

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