Asia-Pacific markets fall sharply on worldwide recession gloom

October 8th, 2008 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Oct 8 (DPA) Stock markets throughout Asia and the Pacific fell sharply Wednesday in response to Wall Street’s plunge and mounting fears over a worldwide recession.Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average nosedived to its lowest closing level since June 2003, with losses amounting to the third biggest one-day drop in post-war Japan.

The Nikkei plunged 952.58 points, or 9.38 per cent, to end at 9,203.32.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues fell 78.6 points, or 8.04 per cent, to 899.01.

As Tokyo stocks continued to fall, the Bank of Japan pumped 2.1 trillion yen ($20.57 billion) into the money market to ease disruptions in the financial system.

Hong Kong shares plunged 5 percent in the opening minutes of trading, falling below the 16,000 mark to their lowest level in more than two years.

The blue-chip Hang Seng Index dropped to 15,888.32 in the first five minutes of trading, losing 915.44 points or 5.45 percent.

The index was closed for a public holiday Tuesday after losing 4.97 percent in Monday trading. Hong Kong shares are now off almost 50 percent from their peak of just below 32,000 in October 2007.

Taiwan stocks plunged nearly 6 percent, with widespread concern about global recession.

The TAIEX index fell 318.26 points, or 5.76 percent, to close at 5,206.40.

Australian stocks tumbled 4.9 cent in tandem with Wall Street, Japan and other Asian markets.

The ASX 200 dropped 230 points, or 4.9 percent, to 4,388. All the gains that followed from the central bank’s 1-per-cent interest rate cut were wiped out as investors dumped stocks.

“It’s about as bad as it gets in magnitude for one day on the Australian stock exchange,” said Macquarie Private Wealth analyst David Halliday. “There’s not a buyer in sight and selling is the order of the day.”

The Indonesia Stock Exchange halted trading in the face of a 10.38 percent plunge brought on by the global financial crisis.

“This closure was to prevent a further downfall of shares as well as aimed at calming down market players,” MS Sembiring, director of commerce at the Indonesian Bourse Exchange (BSI), was quoted as saying by online news portal.

The Indonesian Composite Index stood at 1,451.669 when trading was halted at about 11:08 am (0408 GMT), after falling by 168.052 points or 10.38 percent.

The decline was driven by huge drops in commodities stocks. The index has fallen more than 20 per cent in three days.

India’s benchmark Sensex stock index plunged more than 5 percent within an hour of opening.

The 30-share index of the Bombay Stock Exchange opened with a drop of about 4 percent on the previous day’s close and slipped further on fears that foreign institutional investors may withdraw more funds.

The Sensex lost more than 5.41 percent and was trading at the 11,000 level while the broader 50-share Nifty of the National Stock Exchange was trading at around 3,400.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index was trading at 496.67, down 32.04 points, or 6.06 per cent, by the mid-day break.

Philippine shares closed 4.80 per cent lower. The Philippine Stock Exchange’s 30-share composite index slid by 116.45 points to finish at 2,307.74.

A total of 2.40 billion shares valued at 2.37 billion pesos ($50.42 million) were traded.

Analysts said investors fear the worsening credit crisis that has begun to affect Europe could drag the world into a recession.

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