A slowing global economy and falling demand are taking an increasing toll, from the world's fourth largest economy to the world's third largest mining company.

China says Wednesday its exports fell for the first time in seven years - dropping by more than two percent in November compared to the same time last year.  And British-based mining company Rio Tinto says it will eliminate 14,000 jobs worldwide, almost 13 percent of its workforce, while it waits for "credible and meaningful" signs of an economic recovery.  

But a top European official says, at least in Europe, a recovery could take longer than first expected.  The European Commission's director of economic affairs, Marco Buti, says countries that use the euro may not recover until 2010.

Meanwhile, more help will soon be available to some of the world's poorest countries.  The World Bank says it has created a $2-billion program to speed up the delivery of grants and interest-free loans to impoverished nations.

The Washington-based bank also says East Asian economies will face slower growth in 2009, and that the region is vulnerable to a decline in investment and demand for exports from developed markets.  The bank urges East Asian nations to increase government spending to boost their economies.

Russia says it is taking new measures to combat the worldwide economic slowdown.  Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he is creating an anti-crisis commission.  Mr. Putin says the commission will coordinate the country's approach to the global financial crisis.

Russia's economy has been faltering due to falling oil prices, lack of investor confidence and widespread job losses.

Despite the ongoing bad news, Asian stock markets closed higher today.  Investors were encouraged by news of a possible deal between the Bush administration and U.S. lawmakers on a financial rescue plan for the nation's struggling auto industry.

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