FTSE Retreats As Reality Kicks In

World stock markets have lost ground following two days of dramatic rises.

Investors fear that government action to strengthen the financial system will not prevent a worldwide recession.

The UK's FTSE 100 index was down 2.7% and France's Cac 40 fell 2.1% in early trade. Hong Kong, Indian and Australian stocks all fell.

Asian countries joined the global rescue effort, agreeing to set up a multi-billion dollar fund to buy banks' bad debt and support banks.

The FTSE 100 index of the UK's top shares was down 122 points at 4,271.55. France's Cac 40 lost 76.77 points to 3,551.75 points.

Australian stocks ended 0.8% lower and Indian shares were down 4.3%, falling below 11,000 points shortly after noon in Mumbai.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was down almost 3%.

However, Japan's Nikkei 225 index ended the day up 1.1% at 9,547.47 points despite falling in earlier trade. On Tuesday, it recorded its biggest ever gain.

"The rebound is over and the risk of recession as high as ever," said Patrick Shum, strategist with Karl Thomson Securities in Hong Kong.

"Governments across the world are cutting welfare spending and issuing more debt to help the financial system. But these measures will create a bigger problem of an economic slowdown."