BONN, NOV. 23 -- Leading western European governments have publicly welcomed the U.S. budget accord as an important step toward solving the world's economic troubles, but financial markets and media commentators responded today with skepticism.
The dollar fell slightly in Europe, and stock markets here and in Asia posted mixed results in the first day of trading after White House and congressional negotiators reached agreement on Friday.
Currency and stock dealers said the markets were cautious because of the possibility that Congress would reject the bargain, and because the size of the cuts -- $30 billion in fiscal 1988 and $46 billion in fiscal 1989 -- were no larger than expected.
Traders also expressed concern over U.S. and West German government statements indicating that it would take at least several weeks to arrange a meeting of finance ministers of leading western industrialized countries to adopt new measures to stabilize the dollar and promote economic growth.
Moreover, the Bonn government has indicated that it was considering only modest steps to stimulate domestic growth despite growing pressure at home and abroad for significantly more aggressive policies.
The Economic Advisory Council to the West German government, a five-man panel known as "the wise men," issued a report today forecasting that the West German economy would grow by only about 1.5 percent both this year and next. That is below the government's forecasts, and significantly less than the average for other leading industrialized nations.
Stock prices fell in West Germany and most Asian markets. The London market was up slightly, and the Tokyo market was closed for a holiday.
Despite the markets' skepticism, leading officials of West Germany, Britain and France praised the U.S. budget accord as necessary to restore confidence in financial markets.
A joint statement by West Germany's finance and economics ministries said that the U.S. accord had established "an important precondition" for "close international economic cooperation in economic and monetary policies."
"I very much hope that Congress will approve it as soon as possible," said Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, Nigel Lawson.
The French government was cautious. Finance Ministry sources said that Paris was happy about the accord but was waiting to see if it actually was carried out.
That cautionary note was echoed in media commentary throughout Europe. Newspaper editorials stressed that the United States had done only the minimum expected of it.
The U.S. agreement focused new attention on the West German and Japanese governments as preparations begin for a meeting of finance ministers of the so-called Group of Seven major industrial nations.
U.S. Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III has said that a U.S. budget accord should be followed by a meeting of the so-called Group of Seven industrialized nations, where pressure would be applied on West Germany and Japan to stimulate their economies. In the U.S. view, faster growth overseas would tend to increase imports of U.S. products and thus help reduce the U.S. trade deficit.
The Japanese government, apparently looking ahead to a G-7 meeting, has been careful to avoid ruling out a cut in its interest rates. Lower rates tend to encourage growth by making it cheaper for companies and households to borrow to finance investment and consumer purchases.
West German Finance Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg said Bonn is reviewing what its "contribution" should be to world growth.
The statement by the economics and finance ministries here held out the possibility of a lowering of interest rates and a reduction of "domestic structural impediments to growth." It also reaffirmed Bonn's willingness to allow its budget deficit to widen by more than planned next year if revenue declines.
But the statement also reaffirmed the government's intention to resist early implementation of a tax cut now planned for 1990.
Washington Post correspondents Edward Cody in Paris and Karen DeYoung in London contributed to this report.