Markets in Asia ended mostly down on Friday with Japan's Nikkei staying near 19-year lows. The threat of war in Iraq caused airline shares across the region to tumble because of fears oil prices will continue rising.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended at 9,129, down five percent from last Friday's close. Talk of government proposals to breathe life into the country's flailing economy did little to soothe investors after the release of more negative economic data.
Robert Alan Feldman, chief economist in Japan for Morgan Stanly Asia says the latest economic data were not the chief concern for investors. "It's not new news so I don't think the economic data were of particular importance in changing people's views about the economy," he said. "I think we are seeing the effects of the global economic slowdown or at least the fear of one."
Taiwan's stock market was closed on Friday because a typhoon threatened Taipei. However, by Thursday, the main index had lost six percent over the week, ending at 4,459. Worries over a slower economic recovery in the United States clouds investor confidence there.
In Seoul, the Kospi index was down almost four percent from last week, ending Friday at 708 points. Airline stocks took the biggest tumble amid worries of rising fuel costs as the United States works to build support for an attack against Iraq. Korean Air and Asiana both fell about 10 percent.
Hong Kong suffered a similar pattern with aviation shares losing altitude; Cathay Pacific declined almost 4.5 percent and Dragon airlines lost close to three percent.
The Hang Seng broke through the key physiological 10,000 point level, ending at 9,720. That was almost three percent below its level last Friday.