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US Stimulus Package Generates Mixed Reviews on World Markets

It is a mixed picture on the world markets, with Asian trading centers gaining ground on news of the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Obama administration's stimulus plan, but the share trend in Europe is downward.

As the massive U.S. stimulus package passed its first congressional hurdle, Asian markets responded by closing higher.

Japan's Nikkei index picked up nearly two percent on the day while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 4.6 percent. But the positive psychological impact in Asia did not carry over when the European markets opened for business.

A variety of negative reports kept downward pressure on trade. Germany's unemployment shooting up nearly a full percentage point to 8.3 percent in January did not help.

Banks remained extremely volatile. After leaping up on Wednesday, it was back down to earth for institutions such as Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC.

Next week, traders will be watching closely to see how the U.S. stimulus package progresses through the U.S. Senate.

The program has some similar elements to those being tried in Britain.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown again defended his plan of spending his way out of this tough recession.

"With the action we are taking both here and abroad we will get through this and we will move forward to better times beyond," he said. "We will do this together marshaling all the resources at our disposal and uniting as a nation, central government, local government, businesses and trades unions all willing partners working together."

About the only thing people in Britain can agree on is that things will get tougher before they improve.

The European Central Bank said it could slash interest rates to record lows as the bad economic news keeps coming. All indications are unemployment in Europe will continue to rise in 2009 and company profit warnings are expected to become more and more common.