03/02/2009, 00.00
ASIA
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Asian stocks tumble, Tokyo down 4 per cent

Investors are reeling from news out of the United States. The US and world economy are in a “slow death.” All stock markets are down today, except for Shanghai, up by 0.5 per cent. Japanese car sales and South Korean industrial output plunge.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Asian stocks tumbled on Monday after the US economy withered at its fastest pace in more than a quarter century.

Asian investors are still reeling from data released on Friday by news of a 6.2 per cent contraction in the US economy in the fourth quarter of last year.

The decline, worse than most economists had expected, was the country's sharpest since 1982.

Other negative numbers are piling up.

Insurance giant AIG on Monday reported a net loss of US$ 61.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, the worst in the company’s history.

European banking giant HSBC reported a 70 per cent fall in annual net profit as bad debts surged, saying it planned to raise almost US$ 18 billion by issuing new shares.

With the US and the world economy going through a “slow death”, no wonder Asian shares slipped.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 4 per cent, whilst Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 3.8 per cent. South Korea's Kospi plummeted 4.1 per cent. In Taiwan stocks finished 2.9 per cent lower and in Singapore they sank 3.3 per cent by mid-day. Thailand's index was down 1.13 per cent whilst Indian shares fell more than 2 per cent.

One bright spot was Shanghai where shares closed up 0.51 per cent.

Asia is in for more bad news.

In Japan, new vehicle sales plunged 32 percent last month, the steepest decline for the month of February since 1974.

South Korea's industrial output dropped 25.6 per cent year-on-year in January.

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