Financial markets tumble around the world (Lead)

February 24th, 2009 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Feb 24 (IANS) Stock markets the world over were depressed with key indices in North America, Europe and Asia touching long-term lows and investors worrying about the effectiveness of state efforts to counter one of the biggest economic crises in recent memory.
In the US, big losses on Monday sent two major gauges of Wall Street - the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard and Poor’s 500 - tumbling to their lowest levels in nearly 12 years.

The Dow Monday lost 250 points, or 3.4 percent, ending at the lowest point since May 7, 1997, while S&P 500 lost 26 points, or 3.5 percent, ending at the lowest point since April 11 the same year.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 53 points, or 3.7 percent closing Monday at the lowest point since Nov 20, 2008. It has, however, held up better than other markets in the US so far this year.

Canadian markets plunged to their lowest level in five years Monday with financial and energy scrips diving sharply on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) on the first day of the week.

The third biggest stock exchange in North America, it saw the TSX composite index falling 302.32 points to close at 7,647.67. This is the lowest point to which the index has sunk since October 2003.

Monday’s plunge took the TSX almost halfway down from its historic high of 15,000 points recorded last June.

FTSE 100, Britain’s key stock market index suffered from the fall in North American bourses, reversing its midday gains to end trade almost 1 percent down to 3,850.73 points. The British blue chip footsie had Friday closed below the 4,000-mark for the first time in three months.

Germany’s DAX index fared no better, shedding almost 2 percent to close just below 4,000 points for the first time in more than four years.

Elsewhere in Europe, the French CAC-40 index fell 0.82 percent to 2,727.87 points.

Asian markets also took a hit, with a key Japanese index, the Nikkei of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, sliding 107.6 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 7,268.56 points Tuesday. It recovered from a 3 percent drop that saw the index touch lows not seen since October 1982.

The Hang Seng, a key index of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, was ruling almost 3 percent below its last close.

The Sensex, the benchmark index of India’s Bombay Stock Exchange, was 1.51 percent below its last close, about two hours after its opening Tuesday.

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