BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets were mixed Wednesday, with Asian stocks boosted by positive U.S. data while European shares fell over worries about Germany in the wake of a downbeat investor survey.
Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent to 6,271.08. Germany's DAX dropped 1.1 percent to 7,600.54. France's CAC-40 lost 0.6 percent to 3,664.60.
Matt Basi of CMC Markets said talk of Germany possibly facing a credit rating downgrade, on top of worse-than-expected British employment figures, contributed to the atmosphere of caution. European markets declined Tuesday after a survey gauging investor confidence in Germany fell, a sign of growing fears over the strength of the recovery in Europe's largest economy.
"The market reacting so drastically to idle chatter of this nature is probably less indicative of any belief in the gossip than of the general nervousness amongst traders," Basi said in a market commentary.
Wall Street appeared headed for losses. Dow Jones industrial futures fell 0.4 percent to 14,633 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.4 percent to 1,562.
Asian stock markets posted gains in reaction to a positive U.S. housing report and better-than-expecting corporate earnings.
U.S. builders started construction on 1 million homes last month, the highest level since June 2008, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The government also said consumer prices declined last month as the cost of gas fell sharply while food prices were unchanged, the latest evidence that inflation is in check.
On the corporate side, robust quarterly earnings provided additional reason to wade back into stocks. Coca-Cola, the world's biggest beverage maker, reported first quarter earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts. As of Monday, 34 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 had reported earnings and 20 had exceeded analysts' expectations.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.2 percent to 13,382.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent to 21,569.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.1 percent to 5,004.60. Benchmarks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines also rose. South Korea's Kospi rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,923.84.
Analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore suggested the U.S. housing data was not all that spectacular, since it reflects a big jump not in single family homes but in apartment construction, which is typically volatile.
"Still, you'd have to say it was a good day for data, especially in light of what's been seen over the past three weeks," DBS said, referring to weak hiring, manufacturing and retail sales reports that had suggested the U.S. economy was cooling.
Investors chose to put aside the International Monetary Fund's dour assessment of global growth. The IMF on Tuesday said it was lowering its outlook for the world economy this year, predicting that government spending cuts will slow U.S. growth and keep the euro currency countries in recession. The international lending organization cut its forecast for global growth to 3.3 percent this year, down from its January forecast of 3.5 percent.
Lorraine Tan, director at Standard & Poor's equity research in Singapore, said investors mostly regarded the IMF's initial numbers as too optimistic. Thus the lowering of its global growth outlook didn't sting all that much.
"Global growth is continuing to move along. That should be a positive," Tan said.
Among individual stocks, Japan's Komatsu rose 1.7 percent after the heavy machinery maker said it will start selling automatic bulldozers in North America in June, Kyodo News reported. Mazda Motor Corp. jumped 5.9 percent.
Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 38 cents $88.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 1 cent to close at $88.72 on the Nymex on Tuesday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3181 from $1.3188 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 98.13 yen from 97.44 yen.
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