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By Tom Rivers
12 January 2009
Concern about the tough earnings season lying ahead for corporations has depressed markets in Asia and Europe. The gloomy outlook has come as many countries face rising unemployment. In London, Britain's prime minister has outlined a new, wide-ranging job creation program.
|Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks at an Employment Summit in London, 12 Jan 2009|
As the latest U.S. corporate earnings reports start to come out, overseas markets are bracing for some difficult numbers.
Overall weak economic indicators coupled with depressed corporate data are seen as the main obstacles blocking a sustained rally in shares over the coming weeks and months.
Asian markets down
In Asia, Japan's market was closed Monday for a national holiday but elsewhere, there was not much to be optimistic about.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down for a fifth straight day, dropping nearly three percent. The South Korean market lost two percent, dragged down by an announcement by carmaker Hyundai that it would cut production by at least 25 percent at its domestic plants.
Here in Europe, similar worries kept most shares on the downside with large energy stocks taking the biggest hits as crude oil fell below the $40-a-barrel mark.
US unemployment rate also troublesome
Meanwhile, rising unemployment in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world is forcing some governments to act now. Here in Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to spend at least $750 million to try to stem growing unemployment caused by the world financial crisis.
"It is our determination that Britain can lead the world in showing what we can do to help those who become unemployed and what we can also do to create the jobs of the future," Brown said. "And I believe we can do it working in partnership. Britain works best when Britain works together and I believe that we can show this in the partnership to create jobs."
Brown determined to keep British jobless rate under control
Speaking at a meeting of British business and union leaders, Brown said he was determined to not let unemployment spiral out of control.
"We will be able to help 500,000 people into work or work-focused training over the next two years," he said. "Now, I believe that by acting together and working together, we can help families and businesses through the downturn and at the same time and by the same measures, we can also secure our future competitiveness as a global economy."
He reiterated that providing training now for the jobs of the digital future when the downturn is over is the correct way to proceed.
But not everyone here agrees with his spending plans. Opposition leader David Cameron says rapidly-rising government debt will unduly burden the next generation of taxpayers.