Wall St Set To Open Sharply Lower

Wall Street shares are set to open sharply lower Thursday, after hitting the skids on Wednesday as another round of troubling economic data spooked investors.

A dismal session in Asia spilled over into European stocks, which also turned sharply lower as market players worldwide braced for pivotal interest rate decisions from the European Central Bank and Bank of England.

The Heng Seng of Hong Kong fell 1,050 points, or 7 percent Thursday and Tokyo's Nikkei dropped 622 points, or 6.5 percent.

At 11 am GMT European stocks were also lower with the FTSE100, the DAX in Germany and the CAC in France all around 4% down.

The European Central Bank is expected to cut its key interest rate by 50 basis points later today, although some are holding out for a full percentage-point cut, hoping that policy makers will send a clear, decisive message that they are prepared to combat economic weakness.

The stark reality of recession may compel the Bank of England to do the same, but most analysts are expecting a 50 basis point cut.