News Column

Asia Closes Lower, Europe Takes Hit

Aug. 19, 2011
Bear Market

Asian markets closed sharply lower and European stocks were also down Friday in what one marketing executive described as a global investment "war zone."

The dismal market performance across the globe the day before was apparently enough to scare investors off, with fears of double-dip recession, the European debt crisis, yen appreciation, a manufacturing decline in key U.S. regions and higher U.S. inflation, just to name a few of the concerns.

As has been the case for much of the past two weeks, starting with Standard and Poor's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating to AA+ from AAA, was no market-moving good news to cheer investors. Morgan Stanley's lower global growth forecast took away what little enthusiasm there was.

In Europe, stock prices began the day sharply down, adding to their previous day's huge losses, and there didn't appear to be much hope of a Wall Street recovery from its 420-point Dow loss Thursday, or in other indexes.

London's FTSE 100 and Germany's Dax were both down more than 3 percent and France's Cac fared a little better, down only 1.9 percent.

Tokyo's Nikkei-225 closed out Friday down 225 points, or 2.51 percent, to 8,719 points.

The Japanese yen remained stubbornly high against the U.S. dollar, trading below the 77 level.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 616 points, or 3.08 percent, to end at 19,400 points.

In China, where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his entourage met with business and political leaders, the Shanghai Composite index shed 25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,534 points.

South Korea's Kospi was hit hard, losing 116 points, or 6.22 percent, to end at 1,744 points.

Australia's All Ordinaries couldn't shake of its earlier losses, conceding 148 points in the end, down 3.41 percent, to 4,172 points.

In India, the 30-stock Sensex, already down big the previous day, was pulverized to give up another 328 points, or 1.99 percent, to 16,141 points. The other India bourse, Nifty, also closed with a sharp loss.

Taiwan, Indonesia and Singapore also took in big losses.

"We had a couple days to stabilize and breathe but you forget that it's a war zone out there and there's just too much uncertainty about the economy," Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities, told CNN.

"They are now focusing on next week's data, such as U.S. gross domestic product," another expert told the BBC.

Gold prices have already set new records, hitting nearly $1,834 an ounce.

In Europe, investors were not encouraged by proposals announced after a meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, designed to encourage fiscal discipline and promote competitiveness in the embattled eurozone.

"Bear markets tend to happen when sentiments are low and that comes from weakened demand and bad news flow," Chou Chong of Aberdeen Asset Management told the BBC.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2011

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