Most Asian stock markets traded lower Monday following Wall Street's five percent slide Friday. But Tokyo, Japan's largest market, bucks the trend. Japanese investors remain calm, despite U.S. stocks plunging to levels last seen in 1998. The U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday lost almost five percent.
Tokyo stocks reversed early losses Monday with investors focused on optimistic domestic news. Bank of Japan Governor Masaru Hayami says that the economy had almost stabilized and calls on banks to face their mountain of bad loans.
Japan's main Nikkei index slipped just 13 points, ending Monday at 10.189 points.
Chuck Lambert, a market strategist with investment bank JP Morgan in Tokyo, says some investors now find Japanese equities attractively priced. He also says foreign exchange rates and government buying could be factors. "The Japanese yen is going up against the dollar, that makes equities here somewhat more attractive for overseas investors," he said. "We also have public pension money which could be buying today, one never knows for sure. They could have some cash on the sidelines put to work as the market approaches or goes below ten-thousand which they see as a cheap level."
Elsewhere in the region, concerns over the U.S. stock market and the U.S. economy weigh on investor sentiment. Markets, however, held up better than many equity analysts and traders had expected.
Most main indexes were down two percent or more. South Korea's KOSPI index was down sharply in early trade, as was Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Taiwan's benchmark index. Australia and Singapore were also trading lower.
Across the region, the concern is that the drop in U.S. stock markets will harm the country's economic recovery and dent consumer confidence. That would hurt Asian economies, which rely heavily on exporting goods to the United States.
As many Asian stock markets opened for trade, ailing telecommunications company WorldCom filed the largest U.S. bankruptcy in history. But the move was expected and had only modest effect on the Asian markets