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Europe lower; Bank of Japan cuts rates

  • Story Highlights
  • Nikkei closes lower after the Bank of Japan cut a key interest rate
  • Stocks mixed across Asia
  • Dow Jones industrial average ended Thursday down 219 points, or 2.5 percent
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(CNN) -- European markets opened lower Friday, taking their cues from a slumping Wall Street and news of a weakening economy in Japan.

Asia markets were mixed Friday and had little movement.

Asia markets were mixed Friday and had little movement.

London, Paris and Frankfurt were down about 1 percent, during early trading.

Tokyo stocks closed down 0.9 percent, despite briefly rallying after the Bank of Japan cut a key interest rate in an attempt to boost the nation's economic fortunes.

The Bank of Japan painted a pessimistic picture for the nation's economy in lowering its overnight loan rate from 0.3 percent to 0.1 percent.

"Financial conditions have deteriorated sharply on the whole," a BOJ statement said. "Under these circumstances, economic conditions have been deteriorating and are likely to increase in severity for the immediate future."

The Japanese government said Friday it expected a shrunken economy when the fiscal year ends in March.

Elsewhere across Asia, stocks were mixed. Australia's All Ordinaries index gained 0.7 percent, and the Shanghai composite index was flat. In Seoul, the KOSPI index closed up 0.4 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 2.4 percent. Video Watch one market analyst's prognosis for the next year »

On Wall Street Thursday, a sell-off accelerated in the last hour of a volatile session as traders squared up positions for a handful of options expiring Friday, known as "quadruple witching."

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 219 points, or 2.5 percent. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 19 points, or 2.1 percent, and the Nasdaq composite shed 27 points, or 1.7 percent. All three indexes seesawed in early trading.

The market is typically more volatile ahead of "quadruple witching," when equity options, stock index futures, stock options and single-stock futures all expire on the same day. There are four such Fridays in the year, and they tend to be preceded by increased market volatility.

"Most of the action around that occurs the day before," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. "What we are seeing at the end of the day is an option and futures selloff related to tomorrow's expiration."


Investors also focused on the recession, which has delivered a slew of sour economic reports and has chipped away at global demand for oil.

With the holiday week approaching, trading has also slowed. "Volume is fairly low," said James Shelton, chief investment officer at Kanaly Trust Company. "The markets are getting ready for the holidays."

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