World markets closing out 2008 with a whimper (AP)

A man watches a board at the Australian Stock Exchange public viewing area in Sydney, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. The Australian sharemarket opened higher, following gains in U.S. stocks, regaining some of the losses of 2008, the worst calendar year on record. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)AP – European stock markets opened higher Wednesday following Wall Street’s rally in the previous session but were on course to end 2008 sharply lower following unprecedented turmoil in the financial markets over the last 12 months.