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World stocks down as stimulus jitters mount

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - World stock markets extended losses Thursday after an apparent budget deal in the U.S. Congress reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will cut its monetary stimulus as early as next week.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent to 6,479.49. Germany's DAX shed 0.4 percent to 9,044.86 and France's CAC-40 was nearly flat at 4,086.31.

Futures suggested Wall Street would eke out gains after disappointing earnings from a handful of U.S. companies pushed the stock market to its biggest loss in five weeks on Wednesday. Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures were both up 0.1 percent.

U.S. lawmakers look set to agree on a modest U.S. budget agreement that restores about $63 billion in across-the-board automatic spending cuts and would help prevent another partial shutdown of the U.S. government. The 16-day shutdown in October crimped economic growth and hurt consumer confidence.

Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Singapore said the budget deal, coupled with a strong run of U.S. economic data, raised the probability of the Fed cutting, or tapering, its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases when it meets Dec. 17-18.

"December taper still remains on the table though not our base scenario. We maintain our view that the Fed would need more data to confirm that the economy is strengthening. As such, we think taper could more likely start in March 2014," it said in a market commentary.

The stimulus has kept U.S. interest rates low to encourage economic recovery, and sent a flood of money into stock markets worldwide in search of higher returns. Its potential pullback has jolted markets and added to nervousness in emerging nations about sudden capital outflows.

Some analysts also said the budget deal doesn't prevent another standoff among lawmakers over the debt ceiling, which has to be raised by early February if the U.S. is to avoid defaulting on its debt.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 1.1 percent at 15,341.82 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.5 percent to 23,218.12. China's Shanghai Composite eased 0.1 percent to 2,202.80. Markets were also down in Australia, India, Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Benchmark U.S. crude for January delivery was down 5 cents to $97.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed $1.07 to close at $97.44 on Wednesday.

The euro fell to $1.3775 from $1.3784 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 102.77 yen from 102.48 yen.

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