Accessibility links

Asian Stock Markets Nervous

Amid concerns over the global economy following this week's terrorist attack on the United States, Asian stock markets closed mixed Thursday. Exchanges, which traded for the first time since the attacks Tuesday, suffered steep losses.

Stocks in Taiwan, Thailand, and Malaysia plummeted. All three reopened for the first trading session since the unprecedented terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Taiwanese blue chips lost more than five percent to close at an eight-year low. Chipmakers, such as United Microelectronics and Taiwan Semiconductor, were among the biggest losers, since investors fear such firms will be unable to export their products to the United States if demand there slows.

In Bangkok, the SET index lost seven percent, with Thai Airways sliding 16 percent. Malaysian shares finished more than three percent lower to close at 664.

In Japan, the Nikkei Average ended with a fractional gain after falling 6.6 percent Wednesday. The market began trading 30-minutes late and regulators imposed stronger limits on market fluctuations for the second day in a row. Major exporters such as Toyota and Sony lost about five percent each.

Elsewhere in Asia, equities ended higher. Analyst Ken Davies of the Economist Intelligence Unit says some investors were bottom fishing, meaning buying at a discount. "If you look at the fundamental value of the companies, some of the stocks are already too cheap," Mr. Davies says. "Also people are looking at the market and realizing that panic set in and that it would have been oversold. So yes, I think it is a normal phenomenon, but it does not mean the market is going to hold up. It is quite conceivable that they will trend lower over then next few weeks."

In Hong Kong, Asia's second-biggest market, stocks closed with a gain of less than one percent after losing almost nine percent Wednesday. South Korea's KOSPI index rose almost five percent with improved trading volume.

In Singapore, the Straits Times fell slightly to close at 1,438. But financial stocks rose on hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut interest rates soon to revive consumer sentiment and guarantee adequate liquidity.