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A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - US stocks wavered in opening trade as investors slammed Facebook's huge acquisition of WhatsApp and Wal-Mart Stores turned in disappointing earnings for the holiday season.

After about 20 minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7.00 points (0.04 per cent) at 16,047.56.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.70 (0.04 per cent) to 1,829.45, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.53 (0.08 per cent) to 4,234.43.

Facebook tumbled 2.3 per cent after its eye-popping cash-and-stock deal worth up to $US19 billion ($A21 billion) for smartphone messaging service WhatsApp.

Dow member Wal-Mart Stores dropped 2.5 per cent after posting fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that showed an 0.4 per cent fall in US sales.

LONDON - Europe's main stock markets wavered following a slump for share prices across Asia after poorly-received Chinese data and on the outlook for US stimulus.

The blockbuster sale of smartphone messenger Whatsapp to Facebook and weak earnings at US retail giant Wal-Mart also weighed on sentiment on Thursday.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended the day up 0.24 per cent at 6,812.99 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.43 per cent to 9,618.85 points, but the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.33 per cent to 4,355.49 points.

The euro fell to $US1.3696 from $US1.3733 late in New York on Wednesday.

HONG KONG - Asian markets slumped as China manufacturing data showed the world's second-largest economy losing strength and Japan logged its worst-ever January trade deficit.

HSBC's preliminary reading for its purchasing managers' index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing activity in China's factories and workshops, contracted in February to its lowest level in seven months.

Tokyo shares slumped 2.15 per cent, or 317.35 points, to finish at 14,449.18 after the January trade deficit swelled on the back of surging imports. Seoul's main index lost 0.64 per cent, 12.36 points, to 1,930.57.

Hong Kong lost 1.19 per cent, or 270.44 points, to 22,394.08 while Sydney barely edged up, gaining 4.1 points to 5,412.3.

Chinese shares also lost ground, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ending down 0.18 per cent, or 3.77 points, to 2,138.78. The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, fell 1.55 per cent, or 17.93 points, to 1,139.27.

WELLINGTON - The NZX 50 Index fell 4.315 points, or about 0.1 per cent, to 4909.827.