World markets cautiously await key US data

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Global stock markets were mostly weaker Thursday, with a cautious mood prevailing ahead of key U.S. data that will provide further clues on when the Federal Reserve will cut monetary stimulus.

Major European benchmarks were muted in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent to 6,724.16 and France's CAC-40 added 0.1 percent to 4,290.43. Germany's DAX gained 0.1 percent to 9,047.30.

Futures pointed to a weaker open on Wall Street where Twitter will start trading following an initial public offering that valued the social network at $18 billion. S&P 500 and Dow Jones futures were both down 0.1 percent.

Stan Shamu, market strategist for IG in Melbourne, Australia, said investors are staying on the sidelines ahead of the release of the advance estimate of U.S. third quarter economic growth later Thursday and October jobs figures on Friday.

Both reports could signal how much longer the Federal Reserve will continue its bond purchases at the current $85 billion a month rate. That program has held down interest rates, kept bond yields low and made stocks more attractive for investors.

Market expectations are also growing that the European Central Bank and the Bank of England may disappoint and not cut interest rates at policy meetings Thursday to shore up a recovery from recession, he said.

"With two central banks, a U.S. GDP and jobs report all due out, we were always bound to see some nervous trading," Shamu said.

DBS Vickers in Hong Kong said in a market commentary that the ECB is likely to put off a rate cut amid a pick-up in production and confidence, but it may open the door for possible easing in December when it releases its quarterly economic projections,

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 0.8 percent to 14,228.44 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.7 percent at 22,881.03. China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.5 percent to 2,129.40 and Seoul's Kospi dropped 0.5 percent to 2004.04.

Benchmark crude for December delivery was down 17 cents at $94.63 in electronic trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.43 to close at $94.80 a barrel on Wednesday.

The euro rose to $1.3520 from $1.3510 late Wednesday. The dollar was little changed at 98.68 yen.

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