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World Stocks Falter on New China Concerns, N. Korea Nuclear Test

  • Jim Randle

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. Stocks are opening lower as investors fret about signs of belligerence in North Korea and more weakening of China's economy.

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. Stocks are opening lower as investors fret about signs of belligerence in North Korea and more weakening of China's economy.

World stock markets mostly fell on Wednesday, with investors worried about China's weakening economy, more falling oil prices, and North Korea's claim to have tested a hydrogen bomb.

At the close of Wednesday’s trading in New York, the Dow was off about 1.5 percent, the S&P dropped 1.3 percent, and the NASDAQ slid about 1.1 percent. Earlier, key European, Japanese and Hong Kong indexes all lost around one percent. The Shanghai exchange, which took severe losses earlier this week, advanced 2.3 percent.

China's central bank rattled investors by setting the level of its currency, the yuan, at a new five-year low. Analysts said this indicates Beijing is worried about its economic growth and declining stock prices.

FILE - A customer is served at a counter at a foreign exchange store in Hong Kong, China, Aug. 13, 2015.

FILE - A customer is served at a counter at a foreign exchange store in Hong Kong, China, Aug. 13, 2015.

Oil markets were also in turmoil as the price of Brent crude oil dropped below $35 a barrel for the first time since 2004. Experts say strong production and faltering demand make it likely that oil prices will stay low throughout 2016.

The rising tensions between oil cartel members Iran and Saudi Arabia would have boosted prices in the past on worries that oil supplies might be interrupted. But analysts say prices are falling now because the squabbling makes it less likely that these two OPEC members will cooperate in efforts to cut production to bring oil supplies in line with sagging demand.

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