Stock markets in Japan and Hong Kong fell Friday following a bomb blast outside a U.S. consulate in Pakistan and unfavorable sales data from the United States. Taiwan and South Korea, however, managed to buck the downward trend.
Japan's Nikkei sank more than four percent from last week's close to finish Friday at 10,920. Shares in Japan's top broker Nomura Holdings tumbled almost three percent. Nick Bibby is an analyst with UBS Warburg in Hong Kong. "It has been the weakness of the U.S. data, especially the retail sales report for May, which came out last night. And this impacted especially the exporting stocks around the region and this is the principle reason we saw such a sharp fall in the Nikkei today," he said.
Shares in Hong Kong also took a beating because of the bad news from the United States. The Hang Seng Index closed almost three percent down from last Friday, ending at 10,955. Banking giant HSBC saw its shares lose two percent amid worries over unemployment in the city, and the ability of customers to repay loans.
Taipei, however, rallied, and gained two percent from last week's close, to end Friday at 5,562. Mr. Bibby said investors are looking favorably at possible mergers among Taiwan's many small banks.
"We saw the bank stocks do very well. Investors are becoming more confident about a recovery in earnings in the banks, but also it is that we are starting to see a greater progress coming through with the mergers," Mr. Bibby said.
Korea's Kospi index also ended up this week, at 822 - a three percent rise from last Friday's close.