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World stocks stabilize after big sell-off

MOSCOW World stocks stabilized on Friday, a day after global markets dropped sharply on concerns global growth is slowing and the Federal Reserve could start scaling back its monetary stimulus.

Japan's Nikkei, which had led the previous day's losses with a plunge of over 7 percent, was volatile before closing 0.9 percent higher at 14,612.45.

In Europe, Britains' FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent 6,655.48 while France's CAC-40 added 0.1 percent at 3,969.13.

Germany's DAX dropped 0.7 percent to 8,293.97 despite upbeat economic indicators. The Ifo index of business confidence and the GfK survey of consumer optimism both rose, suggesting Europe's largest economy will pick up in the second quarter.

Analysts said traders are mainly looking for more clues on what policy-makers in Europe and the U.S. will do to support economic growth.

"The market will likely stabilize as investors wait for more clarity on the data front to gauge the next policy moves," Anthony Lam at Credit Agricole said in a morning note to investors.

Wall Street looked set for a muted opening ahead of the release of durable goods data for April. Futures in the Dow Jones industrial average were slightly lower at 15,294 and S&P 500 futures slipped to 1,650.5

Trading volumes are likely to be limited somewhat on Friday as investors in the U.S. and Britain prepare for a long holiday weekend, with their markets to remain closed on Monday.

The previous day's market drops had been triggered in part by the suggestion that Federal Reserve might start easing its bond-buying program soon. The Fed is buying $85 billion worth of bonds every month as part of its stimulus program. That has kept interest rates low and encouraged investors to put money into stocks and other risky assets. If the Fed slows down its bond purchases, it could lead to an outpouring of money from stocks, investors fear.

Also, a weak survey on China's manufacturing sector had shaken Asian indexes. Japan's index dropped the most, partly because it has enjoyed a massive rally over the past six months and some investors found it a good time to cash out.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.2 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 1.6 percent.

Investors in Asia acted nervously on Friday after Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed some of its policy makers want the U.S. central bank to start withdrawing its monetary stimulus.

Benchmark oil for July delivery was down 33 cents to $93.92 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 3 cents to close at $94.25 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2978 from $1.2974 late Thursday in New York. The dollar weakened to 101.68 yen from 101.91 yen.