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Global Fears Force Shares Down in Europe

Worries about the health of the global economy are again taking their toll on the world markets. Following earlier drops in Asia, European indexes are down across the board. For VOA, Tom Rivers in London reports.

The reason for the global gloom rests with recession fears in the United States. Electronics retailer Circuit City is the latest high-profile casualty. It has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Also, worries about the big-three U.S. automotive giants continue to focus nervous investor attention. After posting a $2.5 billion loss in the third quarter, General Motors said it could run out of operating cash next year. Shares in GM plunged 23 percent overnight to levels not seen since the end of World War II.

In Europe, oil prices are down. Financial sector stocks like UBS and Deutsche Bank are also taking a hit.

In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he wants to see coordinated action on the stimulus front when world leaders gather later this week in Washington to talk economics.

"We are in a position to take the action," Mr. Brown said. "Other countries including Germany and France and others I have mentioned like China are taking action. We have taken some action already and we are prepared to look at further action. That is the way to get the economy through this difficult time. And one initiative here and there is not going to make the difference. What you need is a coordinated strategy and preferably a coordinated strategy across the world and not just in one country."

Mr. Brown says nations have only one effective option and that is to work together.

"This is, I repeat, a global problem that you can see spreading across every part of the world so it does need these global solutions," Mr. Brown said. "And that is why I pressed hard for this Washington meeting, it is also why I hope out of the Washington meeting, people will get a sense that all countries are prepared to take the action that is necessary."

The economic slowdown is becoming more evident by the day in Europe. In Britain, housing sales are at their lowest level in more than 30 years and retail sales figures for October show the largest falls in three years.

Many analysts feel that stimulus plans among those countries attending the Washington gathering will help to boost domestic consumption in places like Britain. They also warn against the urge to place protectionist barriers up.