Stocks follow Japan lower

Equities are in the red this lunchtime, as investors are taking their cues from the Nikkei 225 which lost over 6% overnight.

Despite recouping some of their earlier losses, stocks are still offside as traders are concerned that central banks are going to trim their stimulus packages. Overnight the Japanese index slid into bear market territory; if a market loses 20% off its all-time high it is deemed to be in a bear market.

Investors were worried that the Federal Reserve might cut back on the level of quantitative easing, and during the week the Bank of Japan left their monetary policy unchanged when investors were expecting additional expansion. Traders took their lead from the Asian markets and also closed out their positions.

In London RBS announced 2000 job cuts, as well as the fact that CEO Stephen Hester will be stepping down. This left dealers feeling uneasy as Mr Hester was seen to bring stability to the bailed-out bank. The stock is now down 4.5%.

In the US, the Dow is down 35 points at 14,960 as the latest jobless claims report came in better than expected. This provided a bit of stability to US equities.

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