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Europe stocks down as global growth woes intensify

PARIS (AP) — Europe's stock markets fell Monday ahead of a two-day meeting of its finance ministers while the World Bank cut its growth forecasts for Asia.

Investors were also disappointed by falling commodity prices and a mixed finish on Wall Street on Friday despite a drop in the U.S. unemployment rate. There was also some frustration regarding mainland Chinese shares, which opened to losses after a weeklong holiday.

European stocks fell in early trading. By midmorning in London, Britain's FTSE 100 was off 0.75 percent at 5,826.94, Germany's DAX slid 1.4 percent to 7.289.14 and France's CAC 40 lost 1.4 percent to 3,409.81.

Wall Street looked as though it would open lower with Dow Jones industrial futures down 0.4 percent to 13,485 with S&P 500 futures down the same amount at 1,449.30.

Investors continue to worry over protests in Spain and IMF concerns over Greece.

Tens of thousands of people marched in 56 Spanish cities Sunday to protest government budget cuts in a country experiencing its second recession in three years and record high unemployment.

The government has pushed through nine straight months of tough austerity measures that have prompted Spain's 17 regional governments to slash spending in health care and education.

Officials from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are currently in Greece assessing the country's progress in fulfilling the terms for receiving aid.

If their report doesn't clear the way for the payment of the next €31 billion ($40 billion) tranche of the country's bailout, Greece could be forced to default on its debts and perhaps leave the euro. Greece has warned that it will run out of money next month if it does not receive its next scheduled loan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Greece Tuesday for talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Merkel is unpopular in Greece because her government has been instrumental in pushing Athens to make austerity cuts in exchange for its bailout loans.

The day's sullen trading began in Asia.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9 percent to 20,824.56. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.7 percent to 1,981.89 and Australia's S&P/ASX200 dropped 0.3 percent to 4,481.90.

Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.6 percent to 2,074.42 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.5 percent to 849.30.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand also fell. New Zealand's rose. Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

The World Bank cut this year's growth outlook for developing Asia-Pacific economies to 7.2 percent from its May forecast of 7.6 percent. The bank cut its forecast for China, the region's biggest economy, to 7.7 percent from May's 8.2 percent. The bank cited weak global demand due to the lackluster U.S. recovery and Europe's recession.

Benchmark oil for November delivery slid $1.09 to $88.79 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed down $1.83 to $89.88 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2945 from $1.3025 late Friday in New York. The yen rose to 78.19 yen from 78.69 yen.

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AP Business Writer Pamela Sampson in Bangkok, Thailand contributed to this report.

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