Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting suggesting its quantitative easing programme could end sooner than expected have hit equity markets overnight.
The minutes, published yesterday, show commitee members divided over continuing with quantitative easing past mid 2013.
The central bank said "several" members thought purchases should be concluded before a planned end-date of 31 December 2013, suggesting "the benefits of ongoing purchases were uncertain and... the potential costs could rise as the size of the balance sheet increased".
US equities sold off after the publication of the minutes, the Dow Jones closing 0.2% down at 13,391, the S&P 500 finishing 0.2% lower at 1,459.37 and the Nasdaq falling 0.5% to 2,732.
A warning from the International Monetary Fund that the US lacks a long-term strategy for dealing with its budget problems also dampened global stock markets.
Asian stocks outside Japan also fell, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is down 0.5% at 23, 294 and the MSCI Asia Pacific Ex Japan Index declined 0.7% to 475.
Japan's Nikkei, however, rallied to its highest level in 22 months as trading resumed following public holidays. The index rose 2.8% on the first day of 2013 trading to hit 10,688, its highest level since March 2011.
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