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Dollar tanks, stocks drop as Bernanke speech looms


LONDON – European and U.S. stock markets mostly fell Thursday as investors awaited a speech from the Federal Reserve chairman that is expected to give more clarity on what the central bank is planning to do to prop up the ailing U.S. economy.

However, the prospect of more dollars floating around the system continued to pile the pressure on the currency itself.

In Europe, Germany's DAX closed up 20.75 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,455.27 while the CAC-40 in France fell 9.17 points, or 0.2 percent, at 3,819.17. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended 20.14 points, or 0.4 percent, lower at 5,727.21.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 18.27 points, or 0.2 percent, at 11,077.81 around midday New York time while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,175.53.

Following the Asian session, when stocks remained buoyed by mounting hopes the Federal Reserve is planning to ease policy further next month, markets have been fairly steady given recent big gains.

Figures showing the U.S. labor market remains in the doldrums just added weight to what investors have already fully priced in — that the Fed is planning another monetary stimulus and possibly the creation of an inflation target.

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