World markets posted moderate gains Wednesday after some U.S. firms
reported slightly better than expected fourth-quarter results.
U.S. profit reports from American
Express and Texas Instruments and U.S. Steel boosted trader confidence
in Asia where share prices rallied Wednesday.
Japan's Nikkei index picked up six-tenths of a percent on the day.
In Europe, banking stocks pushed the markets up with the Lloyds Banking Group leading the advance here in London.
But the overall market sentiment remains extremely cautious.
new report by the International Monetary Fund predicts the world
economy will grow by just half-a-percent this year. That is the lowest
rate since World War II.
And among the most advanced
industrialized nations, Britain is expected to fare the worst with its
economy shrinking by 2.8 percent.
In the House of Commons Wednesday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was forced to defend his recovery plan.
said his stimulus program is designed to try to keep as many people as
possible employed and to keep businesses afloat in these trying times.
the unemployed and making sure that small businesses have the finance
that they need and that is part of the plan that we are adopting and
introducing now that is being adopted in many, many countries of the
world to help those who are poor and unemployed," Brown said. "To protect savers by
capitalizing the banks, to insure real help to families and businesses
now and at the same time to extend lending to small businesses and to
home owners, that is the plan that will ensure recovered not just
nationally, but when it is adopted internationally."
According to the IMF, the global economy is expected to see a gradual recovery in 2010.
But this year is going to be difficult.
International Labor Organization says as many as 51 million jobs
worldwide could be lost this year. If that prediction is correct, the
global unemployment rate would stand at just over seven percent by the
end of the year.