PAMELA SAMPSONBANGKOK (AP) â¿¿ World stock markets fell Friday ahead of the U.S. government's estimate of economic growth in the latest quarter, which is expected to show improvement but not enough to jolt the global economy out of its doldrums. Economists expect the government to report growth at an annual rate of 1.8 percent for the third quarter. While that would be an improvement over 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, it would not be enough to reduce unemployment perceptibly or increase U.S. demand for imports. The world's No. 1 economy was a mainstay of global growth until the 2008 financial crisis. Since then it has grown at a crawl. Europe's debt crisis has added to headwinds while emerging powerhouses such as China have also slowed. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent to 5,774.36. Germany's DAX lost 0.5 percent to 7,163.75. France's CAC-40 shed 0.7 percent to 3,388.73. Wall Street was also headed for a fall. Dow Jones industrial futures fell 0.8 percent to 12,955 and S&P 500 futures lost 0.7 percent to 1,397.50. Asian stocks posted losses earlier in the day after data on U.S. housing dimmed hopes of improvement in an industry that is crucial to recovery in the world's No. 1 economy. The National Association of Realtors' index of sales agreements showed Thursday that the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose only slightly in September from August. That suggests sales may level off in the coming months after solid gains in the past year. The figures were a letdown for investors whose hopes had been bolstered by data Wednesday that showed new home sales rose last month to the highest annual pace in the past two and a half years. Japan's Nikkei 225 index slid 1.4 percent to close at 8,933.06. South Korea's Kospi tumbled 1.7 percent to 1,891.43. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.2 percent to 21,545.57. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.8 percent to 4,472.40.