By PAMELA SAMPSON
AP Business Writer
World stock markets fell Wednesday, with Japan's Nikkei closing at a three-month low, as political turmoil in Greece pushed the debt-crippled country closer to financial disaster.
European stock markets opened mostly lower after losses in Asia and futures augured a weak day for Wall Street. Oil sank to near $96 a barrel. Prices of metals also swooned.
Markets have been volatile since Greek voters last weekend rejected political parties that imposed the deep spending cuts required in exchange for bailout money to keep the country from bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, left-wing politician Alexis Tsipras said Greece was no longer bound by its promises to cut spending sharply. But a failure to keep those promises could see international lenders to cut off rescue funding. That would likely lead Greece to default _ and to the exit door of the euro common currency.
"If Greece repudiates the agreement signed by the previous government, the most likely scenario is Greece will default," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.
"And then all hell will break loose, and Greece will get kicked out of the eurozone. It's like the end of the world for the eurozone."
Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.3 percent to 5,539.04 and France's CAC-40 dropped 0.3 percent to 3,116.88. Germany's DAX went against the grain, rising 0.3 percent to 6,465.99.
Dow Jones industrial futures fell 0.3 percent to 12,826 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.5 percent to 1,352.
Japan's Nikkei 225 ended down 1.5 percent at 9,045.06, its lowest finish in nearly three months as traders pulled away from big exporters whose fortunes are partly linked to demand from Europe.
Losses were also incurred in other export-driven economies such as China and South Korea. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent to 20,330.64 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.9 percent to 1,950.29.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.9 percent to 4,275.10 after falling prices for metals hurt mining shares. Mainland Chinese shares also lost ground. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slid 1.7 percent to 2,408.59.
Prices for most metals fell as the increasingly bleak outlook for the European economy renewed expectations of weak demand. Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group Co., China's largest gold miner, dropped 4.5 percent. Aluminum Corp. of China plummeted 5.1 percent.
Australian mining giants also took hits. Rio Tinto Ltd. dropped 1.7 percent. Uranium miners Paladin Energy and Energy Resources of Australia tumbled 4.2 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.
But Panasonic Corp. rose 1.7 percent in Tokyo after Kyodo News agency cited sources at the company as saying it expects to return to profit in the business year ending March 2013.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 42 cents to $96.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 93 cents to settle at $97.01 in New York on Tuesday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2979 from $1.3030 late Tuesday in New York.
The dollar fell to 79.71 yen from 79.79 yen.
Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson
AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.