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Global markets retreat again

SEOUL, South Korea - Global stock markets extended losses Wednesday as lower Chinese inflation added to data suggesting slowing growth in the world's No. 2 economy.

European stock markets were lower at 8 a.m. ET. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.6 percent to 6,305 and Germany's DAX sagged 0.5 percent to 9,980. France's CAC 40 was 0.3 percent lower at 4,631. Wall Street was set for a tepid start. Dow future were little changed at 16,966.00 and S&P 500 futures fell 0.1 percent to 1,992.40.

Data showed Chinese inflation eased in September, stoking expectations that Beijing would have more leeway for interest rate cuts or other stimulus to prop up slowing economic growth. Consumer prices rose 1.6 percent over a year earlier, down from 2 percent in August.

Meanwhile, China's weak trade data released Tuesday weighed on sentiment for a second day. The fall in China's imports for September sparked concerns about demand, dampening prices of commodities. It also drove down currencies of commodity-reliant countries such as Australia.

"Disappointing Chinese data drove another sell-off in Asia today," said Angus Nicholson at IG in Singapore. "Today's Chinese CPI essentially guaranteed further cuts to the interest rate and the reserve requirement ratio before the year is out." He said further rate cuts this year look "inevitable" and lower rates will put renewed pressure on China to devalue its currency to help exports.

Asian stocks closed lower for a second day. Japan's Nikkei 225 slid 1.9 percent to 17,891, and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.5 percent to 2,009. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.7 percent to 22,440, and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China finished 0.9 percent lower at 3,262. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1 percent to 5,197.30.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 5 cents to $46.61 per barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed 44 cents lower at $46.66 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oil, was down 18 cents to $49.51 a barrel in London.

The dollar fell to 119.52 yen from 119.76 yen on Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1409 from $1.1386.

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