World stocks sink on global growth concerns

HONG KONG - Most global stock markets skidded lower Monday after world finance officials ended a weekend meeting in Shanghai without any specific pledges for joint action to stimulate sagging global economic growth and the Chinese yuan weakened sharply.

European benchmarks mostly fell in early trading, with Germany's DAX tumbling 1.5 percent to 9,369.00 and France's CAC 40 sliding 1.1 percent to 4,266.71. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent to 6,055.91. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures shedding 0.6 percent to 16,503.00 and broader S&P 500 futures down 0.6 percent to 1,931.70.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 rich and developing countries promised at their meeting Saturday in Shanghai to use "all tools" at their disposal to bolster weak global growth, which is at its lowest level in two years. They also vowed not devalue their currencies to boost exports. They declared that the global economy is healthy, but acknowledged they need to do more to boost growth, without announcing any joint plan of action.

"Following the optimism from traders on Friday ahead of the G-20 Summit, it looks like a case of the Monday morning blues after the influential group of ministers and bankers failed to come up with any concrete measures to boost growth," said Stephen Innes, senior foreign exchange trader at OANDA.

Chinese authorities guided the tightly controlled yuan sharply lower on Monday morning, in a move that sent the country's stock markets on another wild downward swing, taking the Shanghai benchmark down as much as 4.4 percent in morning trading. Central bank officials weakened the yuan by more than 114 basis points to 6.5452 to the dollar in their daily fix. Investors worry that sharp falls in China's currency signal Beijing's willingness to devalue the yuan further to prevent growth from slowing more than expected.

Investor sentiment is also cautious ahead of the release of a slew of economic data this week. Surveys of purchasing managers in the manufacturing and service sectors are due Tuesday for China, the U.S. and other countries in Asia and Europe.

Japan's benchmark lost 1 percent to close at 16,026.76 while South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to end at 1,916.66. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 1.3 percent to 19,111.93 while the Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 2.9 percent to 2,687.98 after the yuan's decline. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was almost flat at 4947.90. Benchmarks in southeast Asia were mixed.

Futures point to a lower Wall Street open today. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 20 cents to $32.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 29 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $32.78 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 25 cents to $35.19.

The dollar fell to 112.89 yen from 113.98 yen in late trading Friday. The euro slipped to $1.0918 from $1.0932.