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British PM Brown Urges Action to Stop Financial 'Contagion'


Britain's prime minister says the top priority for London and Paris is to stop the global financial crisis from spreading to eastern Europe's emerging economies.

Gordon Brown said Tuesday the International Monetary Fund should be strengthened as it tries to bolster economies battered by the financial meltdown.

The IMF has been working to help several nations, including Ukraine, Hungary and Iceland recently.

Mr. Brown was in Paris at the start of economic talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Earlier, Mr. Brown called on nations with substantial reserves, like China and oil-exporting nations, to contribute more to the fund.

A top IMF official, First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky, says the fund has "record" levels of money, but might seek additional resources if the financial crisis continues.

Meanwhile, two of the world's major central banks, those of the U.S. and the EU, may be about to cut key interest rates in an attempt to boost the economy.

Top officials of the U.S. Federal Reserve begin a two-day meeting Tuesday, and could announce a rate cut Wednesday. The head of the European Central Bank (ECB) says the institution is likely to cut interest rates next week.

Also today, global stock markets made strong gains. Hong Kong's key index rocketed upward more than 14 percent and Germany's benchmark gained more than 11 percent. Stock prices in New York gained between four and five percent, while shares in Tokyo, Paris, and London also advanced.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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