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Unemployment figures bring markets back down to earth

News that the unemployment figure in the UK has increased to 1.79 million has not been taken well by financial markets. The euphoria of the last few days has all but evaporated with many forecasting that the figure will break through 2 million before Christmas and could possibly peak at 3m next year. We are now at levels not seen since the last recession in 1997 with the jump in the August figure the largest since 1993. So what next?

Rising unemployment is a nightmare for financial markets as it places more and more pressure on public finances - which are already heavily in debt - and will stunt any real growth in business levels until the figure starts to come down. With less money around we will see businesses literally fighting for custom with prices likely to be under pressure for some time.

Many had been predicting a sharp rise in the unemployment figure but the rise announced today has shocked even the most sceptical of experts. Just as there was renewed hope that we may have seen the worst of the slowdown, the spectre of unemployment has risen again and pushed the financial rescue package out of the limelight.

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