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Economic Crisis Sweeps Deeper into Asia - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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LONDON (AFP) – Asian economic giants Japan and India on Friday revealed fresh damage from the global financial crisis, which has battered international trade and consumer spending.

Japan slipped deeper into recession with factory output tumbling 3.1 percent and consumer spending dropping 3.8 percent in October, official data showed.

The figures were “stunningly bad,” said Societe Generale’s chief Asia economist, Glenn Maguire.

“Japan’s industrial activity is set to worsen in the near-term, perhaps by an unprecedented degree, as exports to the US have plunged over the past year,” he warned.

Rising economic powerhouse India, struggling with extremist attacks in the financial capital Mumbai, said its economic growth slowed to 7.6 percent in the third quarter of 2008, from 7.9 percent in the second.

While it was still a respectable performance at a time when many developed economies are in recession , the slowdown in India highlights the extent to which the US-born financial crisis has spread around the world.

There was also bad news from South Korea, where industrial production fell 2.3 percent in October in a sign that the export-driven economy was slowing faster than expected.

Investors mostly managed to look beyond the gloomy news, hoping that interest rate cuts and stimulus spending would eventually turn things around.

Tokyo ended up 1.7 percent in light trade after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, while Seoul rose 1.2 percent and Sydney jumped 4.3 percent.

But Shanghai finished with a loss of 2.4 percent as investors took profits after the previous day’s strong gains.

The main Bombay Stock Exchange opened 1.4 percent lower Friday, a day after being forced to shut down due to a coordinated attack by gunmen across the city, which left at least 130 people dead.

While some analysts believe stocks are now looking cheap, others see little prospect of a recovery in the current climate of fear and gloom over the global economy.

European markets got off to a lacklustre start. The London FTSE 100 rose 0.15 percent at the open while the Paris CAC 40 slipped 0.29 percent and the Frankfurt DAX was flat.

The region continued to feel the fallout from the financial crisis.

Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland said the government would end up with a 57.9 percent stake in the bank after a share issue to raise funds to help it cope with the financial crisis.

RBS said that ordinary shareholders had agreed to take up only 0.24 percent of the share issue, with the government then taking up the balance, as provided for in its recapitalisation plan for the British banking system.

Last week, shareholders approved plans to raise 20 billion pounds (23.5 billion euros, 29.5 billion dollars) in fresh capital as part of a state rescue deal for Britain’s banking sector.

Sweden fell into recession in the third quarter after its economy contracted 0.1 percent for two successive quarters, the national statistics agency (SCB) said on Friday.

Sweden’s economy shrank by 0.1 percent in the second and third quarters on a sequential basis, the SCB said, adding that it had revised downwards its second quarter figure which in August it had said was flat.

With developed nations focused on efforts to boost their own recession-ridden economies, the World Bank urged donors not to abandon poor countries hit by the financial crisis.

Developing countries “find themselves at the mercy of a crisis not of their making,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said ahead of a UN development conference this weekend.

“A retreat to protectionism or economic nationalism by developed countries will hurt them even further,” he added.

Talk of another US interest rate cut next month weighed on the dollar, which dropped to 95.32 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, down from 95.58 late Thursday. The euro firmed to 1.2923 dollars from 1.2879.

Oil prices fell on Friday as the market waited to see whether the OPEC producers cartel would decide at a weekend meeting in Cairo to slash its crude output.

Light sweet crude for delivery in January was down 1.39 dollars to 53.05 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

On London’s InterContinental Exchange (ICE), Brent North Sea crude for January dropped 71 cents to 52.42 dollars in morning trade.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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