CARLO PIOVANOLONDON (AP) â¿¿ Signs that the global economy is weakening and that Europe's debt crisis is still far from solved weighed on financial markets on Friday. Economic indicators from the United States, China and Europe have been consistently downbeat this week. The job market in the U.S. is struggling to recover, weighing on consumer spending, one of the world's main drivers of growth. The other such driver â¿¿ Chinese manufacturing â¿¿ is contracting. In Europe, uncertainty over countries' debt problems is keeping many countries in recession. Some traders hope central banks and governments will offer more stimulus measures, but it is unclear if and when that can be delivered. By midafternoon in Europe, Germany's DAX was down 0.5 percent to 6,915.74 while France's CAC 40 shed 0.9 percent to 3,400.34. Britain's FTSE 100 stock index was down 0.6 percent at 5,768.86 despite revised official data showing the economy contracted 0.5 percent in the second quarter, less than earlier estimated. The number, however, leaves the country in recession. Asian markets closed lower and Wall Street dropped on the open â¿¿ the Dow was down almost 0.1 percent at 13,056.71 and the broader S&P 500 was 0.1 percent lower at 1,400.59. Market sentiment was hurt Thursday by surveys showing economic contraction in Europe, a drop in Chinese manufacturing output and a rise in jobless claims in the U.S. At the same time, hopes for stimulus action are being frustrated by mixed signals from policymakers. On Wednesday, minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting showed bankers favored more stimulus. But on Thursday, the president of the St. Louis Fed said officials were considering new data that might make further action unnecessary. In China, analysts do not expect any more support for the economy for a couple months. Beijing cut interest rates twice in June and is pumping money into the economy through high spending on public works. Governments of several major cities have announced their own multibillion-dollar spending plans, but analysts expect major new initiatives to be put off until after a new Communist Party leadership is installed this fall.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is expected to present in coming weeks a plan to help indebted countries like Spain and Italy by buying their government bonds. The plan, however, remains opposed by Germany's national central bank, an influential voice in European policy matters.Greece's financial troubles also remain an unresolved risk for the continent's investors. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is on a week-long diplomatic tour around Europe to convince his fellow eurozone leaders to give him more time to fix his country's economy and public finances. Samaras on Friday met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who balked at granting Greece more time, saying it must complete its reforms. She insisted, however, that Greece would remain within the eurozone. Samaras will next travel to France for talks with President Francois Hollande on Saturday. But hopes for a quick resolution of the matter were dealt a blow by Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said more time would not solve Greece's problems. Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 1.2 percent to 9,070.76 and China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 percent to 2,092.1. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.3 percent to 19,880.03. South Korea's Kospi declined 1.2 percent to 1,919.81, while Australia's S&P ASX 200 was off 0.8 percent at 4,349. India's Sensex shed 0.3 percent to 17,787.30. In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2514 from $1.2566 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 78.54 yen from 78.47 yen. Benchmark oil for October delivery rose 31 cents to $96.58 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 99 cents to finish at $96.27 per barrel. ___ Joe McDonald in Beijing and Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report.