Global Stocks Lower on Drop in Oil

LONDON (AP) -- World stock markets turned lower on Friday, shaken by another drop in the price of oil and as investors prepared for the Fed's key meeting next week on interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC 40 shed 1.5 percent to 4,567.42 and Germany's DAX lost 1.7 percent to 10,423.10. Britain's FTSE 100 retreated 1.2 percent to 6,015.66. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower. Dow futures were down 0.9 percent while the broader S&P 500 futures shed 0.8 percent.

ENERGY: The price of U.S. benchmark crude fell further, sinking 57 cents to $36.19 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 40 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $36.76 a barrel on Thursday, its lowest level since early 2009.

The International Energy Agency on Friday forecast that the oversupply of crude would continue until late next year and demand would weaken, a dynamic that would continue to weigh on prices. Though the drop in the oil price can help consumers and businesses by reducing energy bills, the recent decline has been weighing on stocks as investors worry it is a sign of a weak global economy.

CHEMICAL MERGER: Investors will keep an eye on Dow Chemical and DuPont, which announced Friday they have agreed to merge into a company worth $130 billion. The company is due to split into three parts, one focused materials, one on agriculture and the last on specialty products. In pre-market trading, Dow shares were up 1.1 percent while DuPont was down 3 percent.

FED FOCUS: Market attention will also be turning to next week's crucial two-day Fed meeting that wraps up on Dec. 16. Policymakers are widely expected to announce that they're raising key interest rates from their record low levels for the first time in seven years. Recent economic reports indicate that the U.S. economy is healthy enough to withstand a rate hike. Markets will be monitoring upcoming data, such as a retail sales report for November expected after Asian markets close, though it's not expected to greatly influence the Fed's decision.

CHINA DATA: Investors are also cautious ahead of a batch of monthly economic data expected on Saturday, including retail sales, fixed asset investment and industrial production. Further out, a report on foreign direct investment in China is due on Wednesday. The latest figures will provide an update on the world's second biggest economy, which is struggling with a stubborn downturn.

TYCOON TURMOIL: Analysts said Chinese investor sentiment was hit by a news report that Guo Guangchang, the billionaire tycoon chairman of one of the country's biggest conglomerates, Fosun International, has gone missing. He's the latest senior executive from a Chinese company to disappear amid a sweeping anti-corruption campaign led by President Xi Jinping. Shares of Fosun and its pharmaceutical unit were suspended in Hong Kong pending further information.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 1 percent to close at 19,230.48 after the yen failed to hold on to the previous day's gains. A weaker currency boost profits of Japanese exporters. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to end at 1,948.62. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 1.1 percent to 21,464.05 and mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6 percent to 3,434.58. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.2 percent to 5,029.50. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also lost ground.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 121.44 yen from 121.94 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.0967 from $1.0937.

(KA)