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Markets suffer amid recession fears

Global stock markets have taken another pounding as shares tumbled amid fears the world is sliding towards a double-dip recession.

Short-term funding concerns over Europe's banks also spooked investors, with the FTSE 100 Index now below the 5,000 barrier after a fall of 3%.

The benchmark index also slumped 4.5% on Thursday as the 12th biggest points fall in its history wiped £62 billion off the value of leading shares.

The rout followed a downgrade of global growth forecasts by investment bank Morgan Stanley, while eurozone debt fears, poor economic data in the US, and fears over China raising interest rates were also blamed.

And the banking sector took a caning on reports that US regulators are checking the US operations of European banks for possible contagion from the eurozone debt crisis.

Lloyds Banking was down another 7% after a 9% fall on Thursday, with Barclays following up an 11% fall with a 5% decline. Share prices in the bank sector overall are at a two-year low.

One European bank is reported to have asked for 500 million US dollars (£303 million) from the European Central Bank's swap line with the US Federal Reserve as it could not get the money from the markets.

Concern over the health of French banks and their eurozone debt exposure was a major cause of the stock market slump earlier this month.

A plan by German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy to tax financial transactions has also undermined share prices in the banks and other financial stocks.

Oil companies were major fallers, with the price of Brent crude dropping to 105 dollars per barrel and encouraging investors to dump oil stocks on fears that a slowing global economy will hit future demand. The price of gold, which is seen as a safe haven by investors, lifted to a new record of 1,864 US dollars an ounce.

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