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Asian Stocks Tumble Again as Jitters Strike Markets


Asian stock markets have taken another tumble as fears of a global recession again rattled investors. Japan's benchmark Nikkei share index closed down 2.5 percent and Australian shares also finished a troubled day lower. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

After recent gains, share markets across Asia succumbed to a wave of fear - a sign the global financial crisis is far from over.

Japan's Nikkei closed down two 2.5 percent on Thursday, although it was down by as much as 7 percent early in the session because of fears that weak exports could push the country into recession.

Australian stocks closed lower for the second consecutive day, with the ASX index falling by over 4 percent. The market was dragged down by big losses in the resources sector as fears resurfaced of a global economic slowdown.

In a further sign of troubled economic times, Australia's ANZ Bank delivered its first full-year profit decline in 11 years.

The bank's chief executive, Mike Smith, expressed frustration over the panic that has spread among the world's share markets.

"I still don't really understand the blind following of the ASX to the Dow Jones. You know, I really do not get that," Smith said. "US corporates [corporations] have got a very different earnings outlook and very different economy from Australian corporates and the outlook in Australia and I think there should be more of a disconnect[ion] between those markets."

In the United States Wednesday, share markets fell sharply, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 5.5 percent.

South Korea's main index was hit hardest. It lost more than 7 percent, led by shares of Samsung Electronics and steel producer POSCO. There was gloomy news, too, from Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, fell 3.6 percent.

Global investor sentiment has been hit by warnings from both the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Bank of England governor Mervyn King that the U.K. is likely to enter its first recession in 16 years.

The White House will hold a global summit to address the economic crisis next month.

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