Asian markets start week with further plunge

October 27th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Oct 27 (DPA) Asian markets plummeted to new lows Monday, with Japan’s key Nikkei index leading the plunge, as investors across the region stepped up panic-selling on concerns that tumbling share values would drag economies into recession.Stocks in Tokyo nosedived, as the benchmark Nikkei 225 tumbled 486.18 points, or 6.36 percent, to close at 7,162.9, the lowest level in 26 years.

The market crisis has shaved off half the value off the Nikkei this year.

The broader Topix index of all first-section issues also lost 59.65 points, or 7.4 percent, to 746.46.

The Bank of Japan injected 600 billion yen ($6.37 billion) into the money markets Monday to ease a credit crunch as stocks prices plunged.

Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said he was “very much worried” about the fall in stock prices and announced a government plan to take emergency measures to stabilize stocks, while the yen hit a 13-year high against the dollar, crushing the overseas earnings prospects of Japanese exporters.

Other Asian markets were similarly shaken, with South Korea’s Kospi index bucking the trend, trading up 0.82 percent at 946.45, as the country’s central bank announced a record rate cut of 0.75 percentage points to 4.25 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plummeted more than four per cent Monday morning, leaving the blue-chip index hovering just above 12,000.

The index lost 532.11 points, or 4.22 percent, closing for lunch at 12,086.27.

The sell-off came after share prices initially crept up slightly in the opening minutes of trading before falling sharply back as more pessimism clouded the market amid fears of a global recession.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index was down 5.76 percent to 1,733.69, while the SSE Component index lost 373.04 points, or 6.06 percent, falling to 5,785.92.

Across the Tawain strait, the Taiex fell 212.75 points, or 4.65 percent, to close at 4,366.87 after Friday’s drop on Wall Street and as the Taiwan government raised a cap on daily stock market fluctuations.

Smaller south-east Asian markets were hit equally hard with the Philippine Stock Exchange halting trading near the end of the trading day after share prices fell more than 10 percent.

Trading resumed 10 minutes later with the main index continuing to fall, closing 239.66 points, or 12.27 percent, lower at 1,713.83.

In Bangkok, the Stock Exchange of Thailand index was down 6.96 percent to 402.43, shedding 30.14 points, while Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index plunged 6.88 percent to 1,159.2.

The Ho Chi Minh Stock index in Vietnam lost 15.83 points, or 4.59 percent, to 329.28.

Singapore was closed for trading Monday, as were Malaysia and New Zealand.

Australia escaped Monday’s Asian tumble relatively unscathed despite slides as fears of a worldwide recession grew.

The ASX 200 lost 60 points, or 1.5 percent, to 3,809.

Losses were stemmed by rising values in the mining sector. Market leader BHP Billiton was up 1.5 percent as bargain hunters moved on a counter considered oversold. Gold miners also did better.

The local currency was trading at a five-year low of 61 US cents. It has lost 37 percent in value against the US dollar in three months.

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