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Asia Stocks Down As Global Growth Woes Intensify

GREG KELLER

PARIS (AP) â¿¿ Europe's stock markets fell Monday on concern about the global economy ahead of a two-day meeting of its finance ministers and a cut in the World Bank's growth forecasts for Asia.

Investors were also disappointed by falling commodity prices and a mixed finish on Wall Street on Friday despite a drop in the U.S. unemployment rate. There was also some frustration regarding mainland Chinese shares, which opened to losses after a weeklong holiday.

European closed lower Monday with Britain's FTSE 100 off 0.5 percent at 5,841.74, Germany's DAX down 1.4 percent to 7,291.21 and France's CAC 40 lower by the same amount at 3,406.53.

Wall Street also opened lower with Dow Jones industrial index down 0.19 percent to 13,510 and the S&P 500 futures lower by 0.41 percent at 1,454.97.

Investors continue to worry over protests in Spain and IMF concerns over Greece.

Tens of thousands of people marched in 56 Spanish cities Sunday to protest government budget cuts in a country experiencing its second recession in three years and record high unemployment.

The government has pushed through nine straight months of tough austerity measures that have prompted Spain's 17 regional governments to slash spending in health care and education.

Officials from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are currently in Greece assessing the country's progress in fulfilling the terms for receiving aid.

If their report doesn't clear the way for the payment of the next ⿬31 billion ($40 billion) tranche of the country's bailout, Greece could be forced to default on its debts and perhaps leave the euro. Greece has warned that it will run out of money next month if it does not receive its next scheduled loan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Greece Tuesday for talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Merkel is unpopular in Greece because her government has been instrumental in pushing Athens to make austerity cuts in exchange for its bailout loans.

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