TOKYO -- Shares fell Thursday as positive news on U.S. economic growth dashed hopes for fresh measures by the U.S. Federal Reserve, and gloomy retail sales in Japan deepened concern over its recovery.
In early European trading, the FTSE index of leading British shares fell 0.2 percent to 5,729.76, while France's CAC-40 also edged 0.2 percent lower, to 3,407.41. The DAX in Germany lost 0.6 percent to 6,966.11.
Negative sentiment persisted despite assurances by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting China, of the eurozone's commitment to restoring its credibility.
Global stock trading has remained thin as investors, wary of taking risky bets, await fresh moves to revive the U.S. economic recovery. Those could come in a key speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday.
News that the American economy grew faster than earlier reported in the April-June quarter, at a 1.7 percent annual pace, was a discouraging factor in the sense that it suggests no major monetary easing is likely, said Jackson Wong of Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped to another three-year low on Thursday, losing 0.03 percent to 2,052.58.
"We just don't have any catalyst. No rebound is likely without a major policy move," Wong said.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei fell 1 percent to 8,983.78 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 1.2 percent to 1,906.38. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index also was down 1.2 percent to 19,545.93, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.9 percent to 4,315.70.
Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan also fell.
In Japan, a larger-than-expected 0.8 percent drop in retail sales in July from the year before added to worries over the economic outlook.
Ahead of the opening bell, stocks on Wall Street were trending downward. Dow futures were trading down 0.2 percent to 13,054, while S&P 500 futures were down 0.3 percent to 1,403.50.
The euro rose to $1.2557 from $1.2528 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar fell to 78.62 yen from 78.70 yen.
Benchmark oil for October delivery fell 19 cents to $95.30 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.