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War cries trigger stock tumble
- Battle build-up spooks markets; Greenspan’s not smiling

New York, Sept. 24 (Reuters): Investors are girding for a tumble at Tuesday’s open, a day after the Nasdaq tanked to a six-year low, as sentiment buckles under the weight of heated talk of a second Gulf War and apprehension over the fragile US economic recovery.

“We are in a very strong bear market. Of course, there will be a bottom, but that level may be a lot lower than we thought,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView, which oversees about $ 1 billion. “The mood is pretty pessimistic. In most traders’ minds, there is little reason for people to rush out and buy stocks.”

Equity futures pointed to a steep drop at the open. December futures for the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 11.70 points to 822.70. Dow Jones Industrial futures sagged 102 points to 7,763, while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 11 points to 838.50.

European blue chips slumped near five-and-a-half-year-lows on Tuesday. The FTSE Eurotop 300 index of pan-European blue chips was off 1.86 per cent, earlier hitting the lowest point on the index since April 1997.

The narrower DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index, STOXX50E, also fell to levels last seen well over five years ago, easing 1.73 per cent.

Tokyo’s Nikkei stock average fell 1.7 per cent on Tuesday, hit by a slide on Wall Street and nagging concerns over the pace of Japan’s bank reforms and the state of its financial system.

Yet even as economists have boosted forecasts for third-quarter economic growth — growth estimates now range from 3.0 percent to 5.0 per cent — they are worried about slowing momentum and a steady rise in weekly jobless claims.

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