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World Stocks Fall Ahead Of US Debt Ceiling Vote

By PAMELA SAMPSON

BANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets fell Wednesday ahead of a U.S. vote on raising the nation's borrowing limit.

Analysts said, however, that stock markets have room for gains if U.S. lawmakers make progress on raising the debt ceiling. The House is set to vote on a motion to increase the nation's $16.4 trillion borrowing authority for three months.

Without congressional action, the Treasury sometime in late February or early March will not have enough money to pay for all of its obligations, creating the possibility of a first-ever default on the government's debts.

"A vote is expected today, and if it is passed as expected it should clear the very short term obstacles for risk appetite, although battles on automatic spending cuts and the budget itself are not so long away," said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in a market commentary.

European stock markets were mostly down in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 fell slightly to 6,179.17. Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent to 7,702.29. France's CAC-40 lost 0.1 percent at 3,737.44.

Wall Street stocks appeared to be headed lower. Dow Jones industrial futures fell 0.1 percent to 13,680. S&P 500 futures shed 0.2 percent to 1,486.10.

Stocks in Japan reacted negatively for a second day to the central bank's plans for shoring up the economy.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo tumbled 2.1 percent to close at 10,486.99, a day after the Bank of Japan set its target inflation rate at 2 percent and said it would undertake open-ended asset purchases starting in 2014. Some analysts said investors were disappointed that the central bank didn't take more aggressive measures.

Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong, said the Bank of Japan's latest efforts won't reverse two decades of stagnant growth without addressing the country's budget deficit and public debt, which ballooned under years of efforts to stimulate the economy.

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