AMSTERDAM (AP) — World stock markets were mixed Wednesday, with European indexes down as strikes swept across much of the continent while Asian shares rose as China neared the climax of a once-a-decade leadership transition.
Unions coordinated work stoppages across many southern European countries to protest the austerity measures that governments have been imposing to reduce public debt. Factories and railways were shut in many countries, with a general strike in Spain in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and construction industries. Flights were delayed around the continent due to transportation strikes.
The increasing popular resistance to austerity raises some fears that governments will have an increasingly difficult time imposing the policies needed to restore their finances.
Meanwhile, the economy keeps weakening. Official figures showed industrial output in the 17-country eurozone dropped 2.5 percent on the month in September, worse than analysts had expected.
"September's plunge in eurozone industrial production provides firm evidence that the economic outlook in the region is continuing to deteriorate," said Ben May, an analyst at London-based Capital Economics. "We expect the eurozone to fall deeper into recession in the latter part of this year and worse is to come in 2013."
By late morning in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.5 percent to 5,755.61. Germany's DAX was 0.1 percent lower at 7,160.64 and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1 percent to 3,427.42.
In Asia, investors heralded the leadership transition taking place at China's Communist Party congress this week. On Wednesday, President Hu Jintao stepped aside to make way for Vice President Xi Jinping as party leader. Traders were hopeful that the transition will be followed by greater initiatives to shore up China's listless economy.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.2 percent to 21,441.99. Mainland Chinese shares also gained, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising 0.4 percent to 2,055.42. The Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 818.60. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose marginally to close at 8,664.73