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​Global stocks routed again as oil slide seems bottomless

FRANKFURT, Germany - The ongoing rout in global stocks deepened Wednesday as oil prices slid further.

Japan's Nikkei entered bear-market territory, down more than 20 percent from its June peak. Lower growth forecasts from the IMF compounded anxiety over a weaker Chinese economy.

In early trading, Germany's DAX tumbled 2.8 percent to 9,388.41 and France's CAC-40 shed 3.2 percent to 4,135.95. Britain's FTSE 100 sank 2.9 percent to 5,703.84.

Wall Street looked set for losses. Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average were down 2 percent and S&P 500 futures lost 1.9 percent.

The world's second-largest economy cooled further in the latest quarter, dragging 2015's growth to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent. The slowdown has dampened demand for goods from oil to iron to heavy machinery. Anxiety over China's outlook has contributed to oil prices falling to 12-year lows, as China is a major energy consumer.

Oil's fall is seen as a proxy for troubled demand in the global economy, and has also slammed energy company stocks.

The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for this year's global economic growth to 3.4 percent from its October outlook of 3.6 percent. The IMF downgraded the outlook for developing economies to 4.3 percent growth from 4.5 percent in October.

"A return to the template of an overnight Chinese sell-off has dented European optimism, causing markets to tumble. The aggressive nature of this morning's sell-off highlights how fragile confidence in 2016 has been," wrote Alastair McCaig, market analyst at online trading firm IG.

"Oil remains below $29 a barrel and looks more inclined to test the limits of how low it can go, rather than find any traction regardless of the consequences. Oil's price action...has given the mining sector and energy stocks all the excuse they need to slump once again."

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 3.7 percent to 16,416.19 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng retreated 3.8 percent to 18,886.30. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 percent to 2,976.69 and South Korea's Kospi was off 2.3 percent at 1,845.45. Australia's ASX/S&P 200 shed 1.3 percent to 4,841.50. India's Sensex was down 1.9 percent at 24,005.56. Markets in Southeast Asia also retreated.

U.S. stock futures pointed down again Wednesday after Wall Street struggled through turbulent trading Tuesday. The Dow ended up 27.94 points, or 0.2 percent, at 16,016.02. The S&P 500 rose one point to 1,881.33. Major indexes had plunged Friday, and the Dow and S&P 500 are coming off their worst opening weeks of a year in history.

Benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was down 87 cents, or 3.1 percent, at $27.59 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, lost 68 cents to $28.08 in London.

The dollar declined 0.9 percent to 116.53 yen. The euro barely rose against the dollar, to $1.0909.

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