Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 14:55 UK

Shares struggle on Asian markets

Man studies board showing Tokyo stock market data
The focus in Japan is now on corporate earnings

Asian stocks fell heavily on Wednesday following data from the US which renewed fears that the world's largest economy is heading for a recession.

Japan's Nikkei index closed down 6.8%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 5.2% and South Korea's main share index fell 5.1% to close at a three-year low.

The Bombay Stock Exchange fell by 4.8% - more than 500 points down - closing at 10,169 points.

The Indian rupee also fell sharply against the dollar.

On Tuesday, Wall Street's Dow Jones index sank 2.5% after several US firms reported weak earnings figures.

The firms, such as Caterpillar and DuPont, were all wary about prospects.

"The credit crunch seems to be behind us, and we are shifting focus to corporate earnings and economic conditions, and clearly both are deteriorating," said Alex Tang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi in Hong Kong.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei fell 631.56 points, or 6.8%, to 8,674.69 - its biggest one-day loss in percentage terms since last Thursday, when it fell 11%. The broader Topix index fell 7.1% to close at 889.23.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed at 1,134.59 points, the lowest close since early autumn 2005, and had touched a low of 1,095.56 earlier in the day.

In other Asian markets, Singapore's benchmark index fell 5% to a four-year low, as banking and property shares slid on worries the global economy is heading for a recession. Similar concerns pushed the share index in Australia down 3.4%.

Currency moves

On the currency markets, the yen rose against both the dollar and euro, which led to further selling on the Nikkei.

"Selling pressure accelerated following the surge in the yen," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, senior analyst at SMBC Daiwa Securities.

Speculation that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates hit the euro, which slipped below 128 yen.

The Japanese currency also rose against other currencies, including the British pound.


FTSE 100
23.70 0.44%
19.54 0.34%
Cac 40
14.48 0.38%
Dow Jones
78.53 0.76%
35.31 1.58%
BBC Global 30
20.65 0.36%
Data delayed by at least 15 minutes

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