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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Anthrax fears depress stock prices
Investor laments market falls
Asian markets fell on US consumer confidence fears
European shares have extended sharp opening losses, after fears over the impact of the anthrax bacterium on consumer confidence sent US and Asian stock markets tumbling.

London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down 87 points at 5116.

French shares also closed lower, while German stocks stood down in late trade, if well above earlier lows.

Shares in US blue chips stood marginally weaker in midday trade, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq index had clawed its way back into positive territory, after falling 4.4% on Wednesday.

Observers blamed the drops on the growing unease surrounding the anthrax scares, which have raised fears of a "further chill" in US consumption, said Hirokazu Yuihama, senior strategist at Daiwa Institute of Research.

"This has investors especially nervous about techs and those firms that count on the US for a big chunk of their sales," Mr Yuihama added.

Asian markets down

In Japan, shares in Tokyo Electron, a maker of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment, lost 9.12%.

The fall contributed to the Nikkei's 2.61% slump to 10,474.8 points at the close.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng ended 3.81% lower at 9,869.94.

The slides followed Wednesday's Nasdaq's fall, which was accompanied by a 1.61% fall in the broad-ranging Dow Jones industrial average.

View market data
Launch marketwatch
The Markets: 9:29 UK
FTSE 100 5760.40 -151.7
Dow Jones 11380.99 -119.7
Nasdaq 2243.78 -28.9
FTSE delayed by 15 mins, Dow and Nasdaq by 20 mins

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