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Across Asia and Europe, worry that the US economy is deteriorating sent stock indexes plummeting Monday – in some cases by percentages not seen since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.Typical was Japan's benchmark Nikkei, which closed down 3.9 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 5.5 percent. India's Sensex lost 7.4 percent, its second-worst drop in history. At midday, the FTSE in Britain was down by 3.9 percent. Oil futures prices, however, fell to a six-week low of $89 a barrel in electronic trading.Above, a passer-by in Hong Kong glances at a display showing the Hang Seng numbers.

In Europe to try to win backing for his governing strategy, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pledged that the Feb. 18 election in his country will be "fair, transparent, and peaceful." But he said Pakistan needs time to "reach what you have reached" in terms of democracy and human rights because "our environment and your environment are very, very different." Musharraf (above, l., at a news briefing in Brussels with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana) also sought to assure European leaders that Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal is secure under his rule and beyond the reach of terrorists and other extremists.


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