LONDON – (AP) - European share prices spiked briefly Monday after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut a key U.S. interest rate, but trading was choppy as nervous investors awaited Wall Street's response to the terror attacks in America.
European stock markets had already rebounded from a plunge in trading earlier in the day, while shares sank on Asian exchanges. Oil prices were higher, and gold rose.
``People are very confused as to what might happen. People are very worried about the U.S. markets,'' said Tamzin Hobday, head European stock strategist at investment bank WestLB Panmure.
The FTSE 100 index of British blue chip shares was 0.49 percent higher at 4,779, after jumping 1.15 percent immediately after the Federal Reserve's rate cut. The index had earlier clawed its way back from a loss of 1.81 percent in value on the London Stock Exchange.
Germany's Xetra DAX index jumped 1.79 percent before settling back to 1.03 percent above Friday's close. The CAC 40, the Paris Stock Exchange's leading index, was trading 0.60 percent higher.
The Fed's surprise cut of 50 basis points to 3 percent was aimed at bolstering consumer confidence. It came an hour before major stock exchanges were to open for the first time since Tuesday's terrorist attack.
Smaller exchanges in Turkey and Greece plummeted earlier in the day by 10.2 percent and 8.2 percent respectively. The Athens Stock Exchange halted trading for more than two hours in an effort to stem the losses.
In Tokyo, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 504.48 points, or 5 percent, to 9,504.41 - its worst finish in almost 18 years.
Seoul prices finished with a loss of 2.8 percent, and the South Korean government said it would ease regulations on companies buying back their own shares.
``This is ugly,'' said David Kim, general manager of international business at Seoul Securities.
The New York Stock Exchange was set to reopen on Monday after being shut by the attacks last Tuesday on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
There is much speculation that the United States will soon retaliate, perhaps against targets in Afghanistan, the base of Washington's prime suspect, Osama bin Laden.
In neighboring Pakistan, the authorities decided to shut down stock exchanges in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad from Monday through Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed with a loss of 3.5 percent, while prices tumbled by 4.7 percent in Singapore and 6.1 percent in Bangkok. Manila blue chips closed with a loss of 4.7 percent.
``Investors have liquidated their positions in anticipation of a sharp drop in the U.S. market later tonight,'' said Spencer Yap, vice president at BPI Securities Corp. in Manila.
The uncertainty ahead of Wall Street's opening spread also to commodity markets.
Contracts of North Sea Brent crude oil for November delivery were trading at $29.50, up 7 cents from Friday's close. Trading was volatile trading on London's International Petroleum Exchange, with Brent contracts ranging as low as $28.70 and as high as $29.80.
Gold dealers in London fixed a recommended price of $291.00 bid per troy ounce at midmorning, up from $286.30 on Friday. Gold has not closed above $290 in London since March 7, 2000.
The U.S. dollar fell against other major currencies. The euro was quoted at 93.00 cents, up from 91.94 cents Friday, while the British pound rose to $1.4737 from $1.4711. The dollar fetched 117.12 Japanese yen, down from 117.48 yen late Friday.
Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are postponing their annual meetings this month because of security concerns after the Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the German Finance Ministry said.
A formal announcement that the meetings ``will be put off indefinitely'' was expected later Monday in Washington, ministry spokeswoman Maria Heider said. The meetings were set for Sept. 29-30 in Washington, where officials said Friday that they expected a postponement.