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Asian, European Markets Sharply Lower

European stock markets are sharply lower in midday trading Monday, continuing the day's slide that began in the Asia-Pacific region. Crude oil prices are also falling, despite OPEC's decision last week to cut production targets.

The CAC-40 in Paris is down more than five percent, while the DAX index in Frankfurt is off more than three percent. The Financial Times 100 index in London is down nearly four percent.

(Brent) Crude oil prices fell to less than $60 a barrel in London trading Monday as traders responded to the potential impact of a global recession on energy demand.

Investor concerns that a global economic slowdown is deepening are also outweighing government measures to stimulate growth.

Japan's Nikkei index closed at a 26-year low despite the government announcement of measures intended to support the country's stock market.

Japan's finance minister Shoichi Nakagawa said the government is ready to take action to steady the yen, as the Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank governors released a statement saying recent excessive swings in the yen's value threaten global financial and economic stability.

Trading on Manila's stock exchange was halted for 15 minutes after stocks plunged more than 10 percent. Philippine stocks ended the day down more than 12 percent.

But Korea's Kospi gained almost one percent on news that the country's central bank had cut its key interest rate for the second time in a month.