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Europe: Stocks drop at open

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European stock markets fell at the start of trading Friday, with all eyes on Greece after it put off a debt repayment and ahead of key US jobs data.

[LONDON] European stock markets fell at the start of trading Friday, with all eyes on Greece after it put off a debt repayment and ahead of key US jobs data.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index lost 0.44 per cent to 6,828.89 points compared with Thursday's close.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 slid 0.87 per cent to 11,241.43 points and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.71 per cent to 4,951.80.

Greece bought time in debt crisis negotiations with official creditors Thursday when it moved to bundle four looming IMF loan payments into one, to be paid by the end of June.

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The rare move, permitted by the International Monetary Fund only once before, allowed Athens to avoid a Friday deadline to remit about 300 million euros to the crisis lender, as it weighs the newest proposal from its IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank creditors.

Asian stocks meanwhile dropped Friday and Wall Street retreated overnight after the IMF slashed its forecasts for US growth this year to 2.5 per cent from a previous estimate of 3.1 per cent, citing a ports strike, bad winter weather, a strong dollar and the oil price downturn.

Fund head Christine Lagarde also called on the US Federal Reserve to refrain from hiking interest rates until 2016, saying conditions were not supportive of a move this year.

Her comments come as markets await the release Friday of US jobs growth for May, which is used by the Fed to guide rate policy.

The OPEC oil cartel will also hold a meeting later in the day to determine production levels, with expectations that it will continue pumping at the current high levels, which would put downward pressure on crude prices.

AFP

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