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UK home seizures up 92%

UNITED Kingdom home repossessions almost doubled in the third quarter and manufacturers' confidence plummeted to the lowest since 1980.

Banks took possession of 13,161 properties, 92 percent more than a year earlier, the Financial Services Authority said yesterday. A gauge of business optimism among manufacturers for the three months through January fell to the lowest since 1980, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed.

Data to be released later today is expected to show the UK economy shrank the most since 1990 in the fourth quarter as unemployment soared and banks curbed loans.

The pound fell to a 23-year low against the dollar this week on speculation the financial crisis will force Prime Minister Gordon Brown to seize control of the nation's financial institutions.

"We're going to see a severe consumer retrenchment, as there are powerful forces in play hitting households' ability to pay," Nick Kounis from Fortis in Amsterdam told Bloomberg News.


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