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Asian markets drop in wake of Wall Street sell-off; Europe mixed in early trade

Asian markets drop in wake of Wall Street sell-off; Europe mixed in early trade

Asian markets dropped Wednesday following a plunge on Wall Street amid simmering concerns over global credit market turmoil and fears the U.S. Federal Reserve won't do enough to ease a credit crunch. European markets, meanwhile, were mixed in early trade.
Asian markets pared losses as the day progressed, with Korean shares recovering nearly completely, suggesting a measure of investor confidence.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index was 1.7 percent lower at the close after dropping as much as 2.8 percent earlier in the day. Hong Kong's key index was down 1.5 percent at its close after losing as much as 2.9 percent. And South Korea's benchmark finished just 0.2 percent lower after dropping as much as 3.1 percent.
In early European trade, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 were both up 0.34 percent, while Germany's DAX was down 0.5 percent.
In New York Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average sank 280.28, or 2.10 percent, to 13,041.85, its biggest drop since Aug. 9. Investors grew more uneasy about whether the Fed, the U.S. central bank, will take the steps needed to prevent credit market problems from spreading further.
Global markets have been volatile in recent weeks as rising defaults on U.S. subprime mortgages has hit some brokerages and hedge funds that held mortgage-backed securities and made banks less willing to lend money.
"Everyone is scared. It's like walking in the dark because we have yet to get the full picture of the subprime loan problems," said Shoji Yoshikoshi, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi Capital UFJ Securities Co. in Tokyo.
Worries about a slowdown in the U.S. economy _ a key Asian export market _ heightened after a report Tuesday said U.S. consumer confidence sagged in August.
Investors in the U.S. were disappointed that minutes from the Fed's last meeting Aug. 7, released Tuesday, didn't discuss a cut in the benchmark federal funds rate. The meeting predated a number of actions taken by the central bank to try to alleviate market turbulence, including the Aug. 17 lowering of the discount rate, the interest the Fed charges banks to borrow money. But Wall Street seems to be growing more dissatisfied because the Fed has not yet lowered the funds rate.
Yoshikoshi said share prices will remain volatile until mid-September or October. Players are now investing in bonds in Japan, Europe and the U.S., considering them safer than shares, he said.
"But that is only temporary and once we get the full picture of the problems, investors will return to stocks," he said.
The market volatility also strengthened the yen as investors backed away from yen-carry trades. To exit the trades, investors have to buy yen to repay cheap yen loans. The dollar was trading at 114.37 yen at 4:50 p.m. (0750 GMT), down from 114.56 yen Tuesday in New York.
The yen's strength in turn caused traders to dump exporters like Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp., which fell 2.0 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. The stronger yen makes Japanese exports more expensive and less competitive overseas.
In South Korea, Samsung Electronics Co., the country's biggest corporation, fell 2.4 percent, and Hyundai heavy Industries Co., the world's largest shipbuilder, rose 2.0 percent. A second shipbuilder, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering company, gained 4.9 percent, and helped lift the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, from its early morning lows.
Major indices fell in Australia, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.


Updated : 2021-03-01 10:03 GMT+08:00