Markets worldwide slip downward

AP and AFP

South Korea/HONG KONG–Global stock markets were mostly in the red Tuesday as concern about Greek politics and the shaky Russian ruble dented confidence in the global economy.

France’s CAC-40 fell 0.8 percent to 4,283.90 and Germany’s DAX dropped 0.7 percent to 9,860.40. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.7 percent at 6,593.00. Wall Street looked set for losses, with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index both down 0.2 percent.

Greek bonds and shares fell after parliament failed to approve a new president, forcing the government to call early elections that could bring more economic turmoil. Investors worry elections might be won by the left-wing opposition Syriza party, which rejects Greece’s bailout deal. On Monday, the Athens stock market plunged 11 percent before recovering to close down 4 percent.

Asian markets mainly slipped Tuesday following the previous day’s healthy gains. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock index climbed more than seven percent in 2014, ending Tuesday near its highest levels since before the global financial crisis struck. The advance adds to a 57 percent surge in 2013 �X its best annual return in four decades as Tokyo’s program of monetary easing sharply weakened the yen, a plus for exporters such as Toyota and Sony. For Tuesday the index was down 1.57 percent on profit-taking, giving up 279.07 points to 17,450.77. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares gained 8.07 percent over the year to finish at 1,407.51.

Analysts were generally upbeat on the prospects for the Japanese market in 2015 but geopolitical issues �X including turmoil in Greece �X and an uncertain outlook for the world’s number three economy threaten to limit further gains. The Nikkei struggled at the start of the year, but a fresh round of Bank of Japan monetary easing in late October and news that the national pension fund �X the world’s biggest �X would shift more of its portfolio into stocks gave the flagging market a jumpstart. Sydney fell 1.04 percent, or 57.18 points, to close at 5,416.6 and Seoul gave up 0.64 percent, or 12.27 points, to 1,915.59. Hong Kong stocks fell 1.14 percent Tuesday following a mixed lead from Wall Street while investors began winding down on the last full day of trade for the year.

HSBC fell 1.13 percent to HK$74.10, China Mobile lost 2.16 percent to HK$90.60, Henderson Land Development added 0.56 percent to HK$54.15 and Internet giant Tencent eased 0.10 percent to HK$113.30. In mainland China the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was flat, edging down 2.20 points to 3,165.82 on turnover of 437.3 billion yuan (US$71.4 billion). The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, fell 1.40 percent, or 19.92 points, to 1,398.57 on turnover of 218.4 billion yuan.