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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 22:55 GMT
Markets slide on recession fears
Japanese businessman walks past stock market display board
Many investors are wondering if stock markets are overvalued
Global shares have fallen as fears of a US recession and slowing corporate profit growth continued to dominate.

In the US, the Dow Jones index was down 0.3% while the UK's FTSE 100 and Germany's Dax fell more than 1% and France's Cac was down 0.5%.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei index had hit its lowest level in more than two years, closing down 3.4% at 13,504.51.

The slide in share prices has been triggered by disappointing company earnings and weak US economic data.

"Nothing's new, everything's still terrible and there's a lot more bad news to come," said Joe Saluzzi at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

Further declines?

After a volatile day, Wall Street closed largely down, giving up gains in late trading.

Stocks had initially climbed after a Federal Reserve report suggested a modest rise in economic activity in some parts of country.

But the Dow Jones index lost 0.3% to 12,466.2 while the Nasdaq fell 1% to 2,494.6.

And the FTSE 100 closed below the psychologically important 6,000 points barrier, at 5,942.9 points, 1.4% lower.

Analysts warned that more falls may be on the way as concerns about the corporate and economic environment persist.

Figures from the Labor Department released on Wednesday showed that US consumer prices rose in 2007 at the fastest rate since 1990.

US bank JP Morgan Chase also announced that its earnings for the last three months of 2007 fell 34% as a result of its exposure to bad US mortgage loans.

But its shares rose because the exposure was relatively light in comparison with some other banks. On Tuesday, Citigroup had announced that its exposure was more than $18bn.

Wells Fargo, one of the American largest banks and mortgage lenders, also reported a fall in fourth-quarter profit, the first decline in more than six years.

However, analysts said that the JP Morgan and Wells Fargo results showed that banks could still make a profit despite the global credit crunch.

Tech shares sell-off

Uncertainty is always one of the worst scenarios for stocks
John Wilson, Morgan Keegan

Intel, which makes microchips that power most of the world's computers, added to the gloomy outlook. Its quarterly results, released late on Tuesday, disappointed many investors and its sales forecast was lower than had been expected.

The company's shares closed 12.4% lower on Wednesday.

The negative report from Intel, spurred a sell-off in technology firms worldwide on the belief that they would not be able to sustain their current rate of earnings growth in the face of slower consumer and business spending.

South Korean mobile phone maker LG Electronics and LCD flat-screen TV maker LG Philips both fell almost 5% in Asian trading, while German chipmaker Infineon dropped 3.7% in Europe.

"This market is clearly being driven by the fear that the economy is rolling over and that it may be a global phenomenon," said John Wilson, an equity strategist at Morgan Keegan.

"Uncertainty is always one of the worst scenarios for stocks," he added.

Hong Kong's benchmark stock index, the Hang Seng, closed down 5.4% at 24,450.85 on Wednesday - its biggest one-day fall since the day after the 11 September attacks.

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