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Asian Markets Tumble Over Lingering Concerns About Economy


Concerns about prospects for the global economy sent Asian shares falling, reversing gains made after Barack Obama became the U.S. president-elect. Markets in South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan all fell, although in Australia, a senior member of the government said the worst of the financial crisis has passed. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

The share market euphoria that greeted Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election did not last long.

Asian markets tumbled Thursday, a day after celebrating the Illinois senator's historic win, because of lingering concerns about fundamental flaws in the global economy. Most Asian markets had risen Wednesday on the election results.

South Korea's main Kospi index lost more than seven percent, and steel and auto exporters were the big losers - a sobering reversal after five sessions of gains. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell almost as much and Japan's Nikkei also slumped by more than 6.5 percent.

Japanese carmakers suffered. Shares in Toyota plunged more than 10 percent on worries about sliding earnings. The company cut its profit forecast for the current year by more than half to 550 billion yen. Shares in rival Isuzu Motors also fell.

The global gloom followed the release of economic data in the United States that showed deep cuts in employment in October.

Despite such widespread pessimism, Australian Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner thinks the worst of the global financial crisis is over.

"Nobody can predict what these international pressures will do. I'm optimistic that things have improved and that we've have seen the worst of these circumstances in the United States and in Europe," said Tanner. "But we will be doing everything we can to push back against these very powerful economic forces."

Australia's main stock index closed down more than four percent Thursday after post-election jitters about the American economy sent Wall Street into a nosedive overnight.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than five percent because of renewed concerns over a deep recession in the United States.

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