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By Tom Rivers
London
13 January 2009

Another dismal day on the overseas markets as the global economic downturn continues. In Asia, tumbling Chinese exports are now affecting jobs there. In Europe, British retail sales are nose-diving.

Wave upon wave of negative economic reports keep pushing the world markets down.

A man walks past an electric market board in central Tokyo, 09 Jan 2009
A man walks past an electric market board in central Tokyo, 09 Jan 2009
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index lost nearly 5 percent of value as commodities followed oil prices lower.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 2 percent.

Chinese exports in December were down nearly 3 percent from the same time last year and the drop has triggered a spate of factory closures and layoffs there.

In Europe, shares fell for a fifth straight session led by banks, electricity and commodity stocks.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a fifth straight loss early Tuesday, with grim earnings news and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's warning that the timing of an economic recovery was uncertain denting sentiment.

Here in Britain, two new reports point to more economic pain in the pipeline.

In its fourth quarter economic survey, the British Chambers of Commerce found strong, deep declines across all businesses, all over the country. BCC director, David Frost says the findings were even worse than expected.

"A truly awful set of results from virtually every part of the U.K. and every sector and size of company," said Frost. "We have seen a real worsening in their fortunes and how they view the economy in 2009 and 2010, whether that be exports, home orders, whether that be the service sector or manufacturing, companies are reporting a real fall-off in orders and confidence."

Stephen Robertson from the British Retail Consortium says sales figures for December were the worst in 14 years.

"Retailers, particularly non-food retailers, have been hit by a triple whammy of declining sales, crushed margins due to all these promotions and offers that we have seen and steeply rising costs," said Robertson. "I am thinking here of energy costs that do not seem to have gone down with the price of oil."

Economists now predict the British economy will likely contract by between 2 and 3 percent in what will prove to be a very difficult year ahead.

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