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World markets muted amid Cyprus uncertainty

KELVIN CHAN, AP Business Writer • Mar 22, 2013 at 7:22 AM

HONG KONG (AP) — Japanese stocks tumbled Friday as investors were disappointed by a lack of specifics from the new central bank chief on boosting the economy. Elsewhere, markets were lower because of uncertainty over the restructuring of troubled banks in Cyprus.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent to 6,381.09. Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent to 7,901.13. France's CAC-40 shed 0.5 percent to 3,757.50. Wall Street appeared headed for losses, with Dow Jones industrial futures falling slightly to 14,343 while S&P 500 futures down 0.1 percent to 1,537.60.

Investors remained wary while Cyprus works to restructure its banks ahead of a Monday deadline. The Mediterranean nation is trying to raise about $7.5 billion to avoid bankruptcy. If it can't, the European Central Bank has threatened to cut off emergency support for its banks, which would devastate its economy and possibly force it out of the euro.

Investors "just want them to get it done," said Jackson Wong, a vice president at Tanrich Securities. "The financial markets are counting on the confidence."

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 plummeted 2.4 percent to close at 12,338.53 and the dollar weakened to 94.35 Japanese yen from 95.01 yen in late trading Thursday. The yen weakened after Haruhiko Kuroda delivered his first speech late Thursday following his installation as central bank governor, reiterating a pledge to bring Asia's second biggest economy out of deflation but offering few specifics.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5 percent to 22,115.30. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.1 percent at 1,948.71. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also fell.

Mainland Chinese shares gained for the fourth straight trading day, with the Shanghai Composite Index up 0.1 percent to 2,328.28 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 960.84.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 rose 0.2 percent to 4,967.30.

Among individual stocks, PetroChina fell 2 percent after the state-owned Chinese energy company said profit last year fell on price controls and higher cost of imported natural gas.

The euro rose to $1.2914 from $1.2899 in late trading Thursday.

Oil prices rose, with benchmark crude for May delivery up 3 cents to $92.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York. The contract fell $1.05 to finish at $92.45 a barrel on Thursday.

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