The slowing United States economy could drag down the revenues of online merchandise trading platform operator Global Sources by 15.2 per cent to US$23 million this quarter from the previous three months, according to chairman Merle Hinrichs. The locally based but Nasdaq-listed company yesterday reported a net loss of US$68.22 million last year, compared with a profit of US$10.96 million in 1999. The loss was due mainly to a US$11.8 million writedown on investments and a one-time US$65.68 million expense on a shares grant to employees. 'Because of the slowdown in the US economy, we expect revenue for the first quarter of 2001 to be approximately [US$23 million],' Mr Hinrichs said. Full-year revenue was expected to be US$100 million to US$110 million, compared with US$105.16 million last year and US$91.87 million in 1999, he said. The company had US$55 million of orders on hand and US$12.72 million in cash at the end of last year. Revenue last year from online operations rose 87 per cent year on year to US$16.04 million, but that of traditional operations fell 34.5 per cent to US$9.71 million. Global Sources is a publisher of trade directories and magazines which has diversified in recent years into online publishing. Shares were distributed to employees as part of its back-door listing on Nasdaq last year, but no new shares have been sold to outside investors. Analysts believed last year's writedown was linked to the company's investment in high-speed Internet infrastructure provider I-Quest, and a co-operation agreement with online payment solutions firm Tradecard. Global Sources' purchase of long-term investment amounted to US$13 million last year.