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World economic crisis

Asia slumps, Europe holds up ahead of US job data

Article published on the 2009-03-06 Latest update 2009-03-06 10:57 TU

Job-seekers at a "Keep America working" job fair in New York(Photo: Reuters)

Job-seekers at a "Keep America working" job fair in New York
(Photo: Reuters)

Tokyo's Nikkei-225 stock index is on the brink of a 26-year low during a grim day of trading in Asia. European stocks recovered slightly on Friday after a bad day Thursday. Markets are anxious ahead of new United States employment figures, which are expected to show a loss of 650,000 jobs last month.

Japan's Nikkei fell 5.22 per cent, ending at a four-month low of 7,173.10, coming close to October's 26-year low of 7,162.90. The broader Topix index fell to a 25-year low of 721.39.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong closed 2.37 per cent down and Shanghai down 1.26 per cent.

The news was better in Europe, with Paris up 0.46 per cent, Frankfurt up 0.47 per cent and London up 0.21 per cent. But those rises followed falls the previous day of over three per cent in Paris and London and over five per cent in Frankfurt.

Wall Street also fell Thursday, down 4.09 per cent to its lowest level since April 1997, and more grim news is expected from the United States Friday.

US car maker General Motors says it could face bankruptcy, and economists predict that employment figures to be announced Friday will show a loss of 650,000 non-farming jobs in February, following January's loss of 598,000 jobs. That would bring unemployment to 7.9 per cent.

World markets, and especially Asian ones, were also disappointed that China did not announce a new stimulus plan, although top planner Zhang Ping indicated Friday that action may be taken if the package launched last year proves inadequate.

And Iceland, which has been devastated by the credit crunch, officially entered recession in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a national statistics office announcement on Friday.