02/24/2009, 00.00
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Asian markets plummet. For many the recession has arrived

Hong Kong down 3.7%; Shanghai 2.6%; Tokyo 2.4%. The regional Asian index has plummeted to its lowest level in 5 years. Many sectors are hit: banks, petrochemicals, technology, steel, exports. Rumours of the nationalisation of US banks result in contrasting reactions.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Asian stock markets tumbled today, with one benchmark down nearly 4%, after relentless fears about the financial system and world economy drove Wall Street to its worst finish in more than 10 years. Today’s losses bring the regional index to its’ lowest in 5 years.

Many sectors are suffering: banks, IT, electronics, steel and petrochemicals.  The Obama administrations reassurances on the health of the banks seemed to have served little purpose.

Lorraine Tan, director of equities research at Standard & Poor's in Singapore in an interview with AP affirms: ““Investors are just selling out in disgust across the board, disgust with the market, disgust with the financial problems. The government seems to keep throwing in money, but there doesn't seem to be any end to the declines or solutions to the problems”.

Japan’s Nikkei is down 2.4%; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 3.7%; Shanghai has losses of 2.6%; the Singapore index 1.8%. In Seoul the stock exchange fell 3.2%, in short all markets closed in the negative with the exception of Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok’s government declared yesterday the national economy has been reduced by 4.3%, propelling the country into its first recession in a decade.  Hong Kong is also experiencing its first recession since 2003.

Overnight, the Dow dropped 250.89, or 3.4%, to 7,114.78. It last closed this low on May 7, 1997 when it finished at 7,085.65. The Dow hasn't traded below the 7,000 mark since October 1997.

Fears that some major US banks could be nationalised continued to drag on sentiment, as stocks briefly came off lows after the White House reiterated that a privately held banking system regulated by the government was still the best way to operate. As the only boosts to the Dow, Citigroup and Bank of America were up 9.7 % and 3.2%, respectively, after having fallen more than 35 % each last Friday.

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