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World Markets Down After Weak US Earnings

PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ A batch of weaker-than-expected earnings that interrupted a two-week rally on Wall Street also sent stocks lower in Europe and Asia on Wednesday.

Oil prices fell to near $110 a barrel as a report showed U.S. crude supplies rose more than expected last week, suggesting growth in demand could be waning. In currencies, the dollar fell against the euro but was higher against the yen.

Sentiment for riskier assets was muted as investors fretted about potential terrorist attacks following the killing of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. commandoes over the weekend.

"The market welcomes the good news, but it worries about whether this news will lead to higher short term uncertainties on the concern of revenge activities," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report.

In early European trade, Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.8 percent to 6,036.04. Germany's DAX was 0.2 percent lower to 7,486.79 and France's CAC-40 was off 0.2 percent at 4,089.03. Wall Street was headed for a tentative day of trading, with Dow Jones industrial futures nearly unchanged at 12,754 and S&P 500 futures mostly flat at 1,351.70.

Enthusiasm for stocks was also dampened by a report Tuesday by the People's Bank of China that reflected continuing concerns over inflation. Such concerns could spur the central bank to place additional curbs on lending, which would reduce the amount of money available for investment in the hopes of stabilizing prices.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 1.4 percent to 23,315.24. Shares of Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group, China's biggest gold miner, tumbled 2.7 percent after a court in southeastern China ordered the company to pay a $4.6 million fine for toxic mine spills at the Zijinshan Gold and Copper Mine nearly a year ago.

Blue chip property shares also fell over possible new restrictions aimed at cooling housing prices. China Resources Land Ltd. dropped 2.7 percent and China Overseas Land & Investment was down 2.6 percent.

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