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Stocks fall, bitcoin retreats


London (AFP) - Stock markets mostly fell Thursday as fresh concerns about fallout from China's Evergrande saga hit sentiment.

Bitcoin retreated from its record high reached Wednesday, while oil prices dropped.

Stock markets in Asia and Europe fell into the red as Chinese giant Evergrande said the planned sale of its property services arm had collapsed.

Resuming stock market trading after a more than two-week suspension, Evergrande also warned that it could not guarantee meeting its debt obligations, reigniting fears of contagion. Shares in the embattled company tanked Thursday.

Justin Tang, of United First Partners, warned that "without the infusion of cash from the sale" of assets, the firm's share price "is going to take the elevator down".

"China's Evergrande crisis reared its ugly head again," noted AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson.

"This hit stocks with Chinese exposure, most notably the mining sector."

There had been hope that the $2.58-billion sale of a 50.1 per cent stake in Evergrande Property Services Group would provide it with much-needed capital to service its debts.

The news will again raise worries about the impact on the wider economy, with the property sector accounting for a huge chunk of China's gross domestic product and several other developers recently failing to meet debt payment deadlines.

Data this week showed the country's economic growth was slower than expected in the third quarter.

Still, top officials at the People's Bank of China and regulators have insisted the fallout from the crisis could be contained.

Wall Street also moved lower when trading got underway in North America, a day after the Dow hit a record intraday high and the S&P hung just below a record high.

"Despite the recent run-up, uncertainties surrounding supply-chain bottlenecks, the resulting inflation, energy prices, and monetary policy remain," said analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage in a note.

Elsewhere, bitcoin was sitting at $65,419.

The world's leading cryptocurrency on Wednesday hit a record high of $66,976 after a financial instrument dedicated to the unit made a successful debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

The digital unit has surged more than 50 percent over the past month and an eye-watering 450 per cent in one year.

Meanwhile, the Turkish lira touched new lows against the dollar after Turkey's central bank lowered its policy rate by two percentage points to 16 percent despite rampant inflation running at close to 20 per cent.

Economists interpreted the rate cut as confirmation of the central bank's loss of independence from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pushed for low interest rates to encourage economic growth.

"The rate cut has exacerbated hyperinflation worries and investors decided to further abandon the TRY as a result," said market analyst Fawad Razaqzada at ThinkMarkets.

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