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Global shares low ahead of central bank meetings

TOKYO/HONG KONG--Global stocks were mostly lower Thursday as markets waited for central bank meetings in Europe and Japan while remaining on edge about tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.3 percent to 6,618.59 in early trading. France's CAC 40 index was also lower, down 0.1 percent to 4,202.16. Germany's DAX was little changed. U.S. markets looked poised for gains. Dow futures were up 0.3 and S&P 500 futures added 0.4 percent.

With stock market moves relatively subdued, players have their eyes on possible currency fluctuations. “The focus will be on European currencies later this evening. Both the Bank of England and European Central Bank are likely to keep monetary policies unchanged when they hold their respective meetings tonight,” said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.

There is evidence of a U.S. economic recovery, but players are also considering the prospect the Federal Reserve might raise its benchmark interest rate next year. On the political front, U.S. President Barack Obama has said that U.S. sanctions levied against Russia over its actions in Ukraine are working but that Washington would face a much different set of questions about how to respond if Moscow invaded Ukraine's east.

Asian stocks mostly dipped Wednesday, as concerns over the European economy and international conflicts grew.

Traders said sentiment had also been hit by news that several huge mergers had collapsed, including 21st Century Fox's bid for Time Warner and that of Japanese-controlled U.S. wireless operator Sprint for T-Mobile.

“A perfect storm of low volumes, geopolitical worries and pulled mergers is conspiring to keep markets on the back foot,” said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG trading group.

Sydney shed 3.0 points, or 0.05 percent, to finish at 5,509.0, while Seoul slipped 0.30 percent or 6.22 points to close at 2,054.51.

Hong Kong was down 0.78 percent or 196.57 points to 24,387.56 at the close. Shanghai dropped 1.34 percent, or 29.80 points, to 2,187.67 and Shenzhen fell 0.92 percent, or 10.83 points, to end at 1,166.50.

Tokyo's Nikkei rose 0.48 or 72.58 points to close at 15,232.37, bucking the regional trend, as late bargain-hunting dragged the Japanese market out of negative territory and snapped a five-day losing streak.

The falls in other Asian markets followed losses in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Lisbon. Official data showed Italy slid back into recession in the second quarter, prompting renewed fears of about the health of the eurozone.

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