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Asian Markets Flat  Amid Uncertain US Economic Recovery


Markets closed flat this week in Asia, as disappointing earnings and tepid economic data from the U.S. beat down hopes of a strong U.S. economic recovery. Uncertainties surrounding the U.S. recovery, stymied markets across Asia, with the major indexes ending down or flat.

Market analyst Don Hanna of Citigroup in Hong Kong says worries surrounding rising oil prices and the troubles in the Middle East do not bode well for a strong U.S. recovery.

"Some of the markets that had been going up very strongly on the back of assumed strength in the U.S. economy, like Korea, were then selling off as people reassessed just how strong the U.S. economy would be."

South Korea's Kospi index ended six percent lower from last week, finishing at 869 points. Major losers included LG Chemical.

In Taipei, the market's main index ended two percent lower from last week at 6,306.

Mr. Hanna says weaker than expected demand for electronics and D-RAM computer chips in Taiwan drove that market down.

"In Taiwan, the market was essentially held hostage to shifting views about what was essentially going to happen with the performance of the electronics sector; we continue to see weaker D-RAM prices and concerns about the pace of sales of electronics."

In Tokyo, the Nikkei gained just 39 points from last week's close, ending at 11,541. Recent losses in U.S. stocks kept investors away from top exporters such as Toyota. A jump in the yen's value against the dollar also hurt market confidence. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended slightly higher, gaining one percent on the week. Hopes of a recovery in Hong Kong are beginning to filter through as investors take a new look at the territory's economy, which has lagged behind the slow gains made in the rest of Asia.