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Asia Stock Markets Fall As US Recession Worries Grow


Asia's stock markets saw another bruising trading day as investors continued to dump shares, scared of a possible U.S. recession. VOA's Heda Bayron reports from Hong Kong.

With no positive news about the U.S. economy, turbulence continued to rock Asia's stock markets Tuesday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 5.7 percent. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plunged more than seven percent, while Taiwan's index tumbled 6.5 percent.

Stock analysts say Asia's export-driven economies will feel the pinch of any slowdown in the U.S.

Ernie Hon, stock strategist at ICEA Securities in Hong Kong, says some investors are looking toward the U.S. Federal Reserve for relief.

"I think it really depends on what the U.S. Federal Reserve will do in the coming few days," said Hon. "Actually, I'm betting the Fed will cut interest rates before [the FOMC meeting at] the end of this month, maybe within this week. Then there may be some stimulus to the market."

The Hang Seng index dived eight percent. Trading was briefly suspended in South Korea as the market dropped more than six percent - it closed 4.4 percent down. Trading in India was also halted for an hour after the market plunged nearly 10 percent.

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tried to assure investors that the economy remains strong even as the Australian Stock Exchange All Ordinaries Index lost seven percent Tuesday, its biggest one-day percentage fall in nearly 20 years.

"It's important though at times like this that we emphasize again the strength of the fundamentals of the Australian economy," said Mr. Rudd. "Economic management, responsible economic management is the core business of this Australian government."

Investors in Asia are looking anxiously toward the U.S. A drop in U.S. interest rates could halt a fall in U.S. consumption - an indicator of demand for Asian exports. It could also make the stocks more attractive investments than bonds.

But with mounting losses from bad housing loans and Washington's failure to deal promptly with the problem, analysts say investor confidence will remain shaky.

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