10/07/2008, 00.00
ASIA
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Few signs of life in Asian markets as fears of deflation rise

Tokyo ends the day down 3 per cent; shanghai drops 0.73 per cent. Small positive signs are registered in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. Commodity prices are down by 10 per cent; maritime shipping costs plunge by 75 per cent.
Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Asian markets showed a few signs of life on Tuesday but analysts fear deflation, recession and depression. Still the day ended in small losses compared to yesterday’s, which some have started to call Black Monday.

Main indices in South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan all edged higher after the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed its key rate to 6 per cent. Sydney’s index gained 1.7 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index erased some of its early losses to close down by 3 per cent after plunging over 5 per cent to below 10,000 for the first time in almost five years.

Earlier in the day the Bank of Japan injected another trillion yen (S.5 billion) into the money market to stabilise lending among banks.

In Shanghai stocks dropped 0.73 per cent after losing 4.64 per cent in the morning.

Hong Kong was closed for a holiday.

Investors remain jittery that sinking banks might cut into growth and drag down prices.

Many prices have already dropped. Housing lost 10 per cent of its value in the United States and the United Kingdom in a year.

Oil, copper and wheat have seen the largest decline in 56 years. Copper lost 4.7 per cent yesterday. A barrel of crude oil is now under US$ 90 for the first time since February.

The Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 raw materials tumbled 10.4 per cent, that of 19 commodities fell 43 per cent from its July 3 peak, a loss larger than their total worth two years ago.

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity shipping costs, has dropped 75 percent since May.

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