World stock markets mostly lower as Greece weighs

HONG KONG: World stock markets fell Thursday and the euro weakened after Greece said it might seek international assistance to resolve its debt crisis.

The downward trade in Asia and Europe came after Wall Street advanced for the seventh straight day. Oil prices fell toward $82 a barrel.

Global markets jumped Wednesday after U.S. and Japanese central banks signaled plans to maintain low borrowing costs to help foster economic growth.

But new anxiety about Greece led many investors to cash in some profits. Greece, struggling to meet the country's massive debt obligations, said Wednesday it could seek funding from the International Monetary Fund if other European countries didn't provide support next week.

European Union nations have been slow to come to Greece's aid, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested this week the euro zone should be able to eject countries that persistently disobey the region's budget rules.

European markets opened modestly lower, with Britain's FTSE 100 losing 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX down 0.2 percent and France's CAC-40 off 0.3 percent. Wall Street was headed for a lackluster open as most U.S. futures declined.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 102.95 points, or 1 percent, to 10,744.03. South Korea's Kospi index lost 0.5 percent.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.3 percent to 21,330.67 and Shanghai's main index was off 0.1 percent. India's market shed 0.1 percent.

In currencies, the euro slid to $1.3667 from $1.3733. The dollar was off at 89.96 yen from 90.34 yen.

Oil prices fell toward $82 a barrel Thursday in Asia, paring two days of gains that were fueled by signs U.S. crude demand may be improving.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was down 93 cents to $81.99. The contract rose $1.23 overnight.

Overnight in the U.S., the Dow rose 47.69, or 0.5 percent, to 10,733.67. It is at its highest point since Oct. 1, 2008. The seven-day streak of gains is its longest since August.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.75, or 0.6 percent, to 1,166.21. That's the highest close since Sept. 30, 2008.