European stocks stumbled after a surprise decision by the Bank of England to reduce its benchmark rate to the lowest level since 1955. London's FTSE index slipped 81.70 points, or 2.22%, to 3,597.00. Paris' CAC-40 index finished down 8.44 points, or 1.68%, to 2,836.18. In Frankfurt, the DAX index fell 76.88 points, or 2.82%, to 2,649.00, after a report showed that German manufacturing fell more than the expected 4.1% in December.
In Asia, stocks finished down. According to media reports, Japan said evidence presented by the U.S. had deepened doubts about the status of Iraq's weapons program but it stopped short of expressing public support for a U.S.-led military attack on Iraq. Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 65.66 points, or 0.77%, to 8,484.19. Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng lost 54.32 points, or 0.59%, to 9,126.15.