World stocks decline on dour US earnings outlook

World stocks fall after 2 days of US decline, unpromising outlook for US earnings season

Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) -- Global stock markets fell Monday following two days of U.S. declines and forecasts of lower American corporate profits.

Oil rose above $104 per barrel amid renewed tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

In early European trading Germany's DAX fell 0.5 percent to 9,275.98 and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1 percent to 4,361.36. Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.5 percent to 6,530.90. Asian stock markets were muted.

On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and the broader S&P 500 both were off 0.1 percent.

The declines came after investors drove U.S. markets lower for a second day Friday due to anxiety that earnings growth was faltering.

Financial analysts expect earnings for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 to drop 1.6 percent from a year earlier, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. That was a reversal from the start of the year, when they expected a jump of 4.3 percent.

"We believe the selling is not finished," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a report.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.4 percent to 13,910.16 and Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 1.3 percent to 5,358.9.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was little changed at 2,131.54 while Seoul's Kospi held steady at 1,997.02.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was the region's only major gainer, rising 0.2 percent to 23,048.40.

In Japan, retailers are feeling the impact of a sales tax hike that took effect April 1. Department stores such as Takashimaya, Mitsukoshi and Sogo said sales plunged by 10 to 25 percent in the first week of April.

"Consumption demand has fallen sharply since the new tax rate took effect," said DBS Group in a report.

On Friday, the Nasdaq dropped 1.3 percent. The Dow fell 0.9 percent while the S&P 500 was off 1 percent.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was up 72 cents to $104.47 after Ukraine's government said Sunday it was sending troops to try to quash a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine despite warnings from the Kremlin. Markets have been rattled by concern Western sanctions against Moscow might disrupt Russian exports of oil and gas. The contract rose 34 cents Friday to close at $103.74.

In currency markets, the dollar rose to 101.68 yen from 101.63 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.3827 from $1.3852.

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