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UK Market Modestly Down

The UK market is declining modestly in early afternoon trading Wednesday, as economic worries continued to dent investor confidence. The Asian markets ended mostly lower while the U.S. index futures point to a higher open.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said it is far too early to declare victory in the U.S. economic recovery, as joblessness was still at a troubling high and housing markets still weak. Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said in Tokyo that the European debt crisis is almost over.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.04 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is falling 0.22 percent.

The FTSE 100 index is losing 0.19 percent.

ICAP is declining 2.9 percent. The interdealer broker said its expectations for full-year performance remain in line with the previously issued guidance, amid an improvement in risk appetite in some markets in the fourth quarter.

Prudential is losing 3.2 percent and RSA Insurance is declining 6.1 percent. Swiss Re said 2011 witnessed around 64 percent increase in unprecedented economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters, thanks mainly to the earthquake in Japan, while insured losses surged 142 percent from 2010.

Thomas Cook is up 1.6 percent. The tour operator said it experienced improvement in UK booking trends in the last few weeks, while Europe remains subdued.

Evraz is declining 2.9 percent after annual profit dropped.

British Land is declining 2.8 percent.

Among miners, Anglo American is losing 2.5 percent and Antofagasta is falling 1.9 percent. Kazakhmys is retreating 2.5 percent. Fresnillo is losing 2.9 percent.

Elsewhere in Europe, the German DAX is losing 0.09 percent and the French CAC 40 is dropping 0.04 percent. Switzerland's SMI is losing 0.04 percent.

In economic news, the French economy expanded as estimated initially in the fourth quarter, the statistical office Insee said. However, in the UK, the gross domestic product fell 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter compared to the previously estimated 0.2 percent decline, revised data released by the Office for National Statistics showed.

Across Asia/Pacific, most major markets ended in the red. China's Shanghai Composite Index retreated 2.65 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.77 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.71 percent. Australia's All Ordinaries, however, added 0.91 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, stocks showed a lack of direction throughout much of the session and the major averages posted modest losses to end the day. The Dow slipped 0.3 percent, the Nasdaq edged down 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.3 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is losing $0.93 to $106.40 per barrel and April gold is sliding $8.6 to $1676.3 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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