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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 23:12 GMT
Markets wary after Bush's speech
US trader
Markets are jittery due to fears of a recession in the US economy
Global stock indexes had a volatile Friday as a plan to kick-start the US economy did little to ease investors' fears about a possible recession.

After climbing early on, the US Dow Jones index closed down 0.5% at 12,099.3, and the S&P 500 lost 0.6%.

In London, the FTSE 100 closed 0.7 of a point lower at 5,901.7, while in France and Germany the markets also fell.

Investors are concerned that President George W Bush's $145bn (74bn) plan to kick-start growth will not do enough.

"The fear is that the plan, and even the Federal Reserve, may not have enough firepower to turn the path to recession around," said Richard Sparks, senior equities analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati.

Recession forecast

Many analysts are predicting that the US economy, the world's largest, is heading for a recession.

France's benchmark Cac 40 index fell 1.3% to close at 5,092.40, while Germany's Dax also lost 1.3%.

Asian stocks had gained in anticipation of the White House proposal.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed 0.6% higher at 13,861.29, having been 3% down earlier.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also recovered from a 3.7% slump to finish Friday trading up 0.4% at 25,201.9 points.

India's Sensex fell 3.5% to close at 19,013.7 points.

Fraught environment

Appetite for shares is drying up as problems in the US housing market have spread turmoil to markets around the world.

Wall Street giants, including Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, and some of Europe's biggest banks, such as Zurich-based UBS, have disclosed billions of dollars of losses in investments centred on soured US home loans.

The losses have cut into earnings, reducing banks' ability to lend as freely to consumers and businesses.

At the same time it has made them wary of lending to each other, and banks have increased their borrowing charges.

Signs of the tougher economic environment have been evident in the Christmas corporate trading statements and economic data on both sides of the Atlantic.

On Thursday, gloomy US manufacturing data and bad news from Merrill Lynch, which reported the biggest three-month loss in its history, caused the main US Dow Jones index to fall 2.5%.

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