Asian stocks down on US bailout scepticism
Asian stocks fell, led by banks and commodity companies, on scepticism that the proposed United States bank rescue will revive credit markets and the world's biggest economy.
Japan's stock market, the world's second largest, was closed yesterday for a holiday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped 2.8 per cent, leading most of the region's benchmark indexes lower.
China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2 per cent as the nation's exports slumped by the most in almost 13 years in January.
The Hang Seng Index lost 341.43 to 13,539.21 at the close, halting a five-day advance. The index has dropped 5.9 per cent this year, extending 2008's slump of 48 per cent, the biggest annual decline since 1974.
South Korea's Kospi finished 0.7 per cent lower, with shares of Shinhan Bank and Woori Bank among the heaviest drags on the index. Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 5.05 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,698.24.
Twenty-two of the gauge's 30 stocks declined, while six advanced. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 19.82, or one per cent, to 1,897.75 at the close in Manila. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index that excludes Japan fell 1.8 per cent to 232.70 in Hong Kong. The gauge that includes Japan has fallen 7.3 per cent this year, extending 2008's record 43 per cent decline as the world's biggest economies sank into global recession.
BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, slid 2.9 per cent to A$32.37 on concern oil and metals demand will drop.
Rio Tinto rose 6.2 per cent on speculation Aluminum Corp of China, the nation's biggest producer of the metal, may invest as much as to $20 billion.
Posco, Asia's third biggest steelmaker, fell 2.8 per cent to 379,500 won in Seoul on its forecast for the quarter and after reporting an operating profit margin of about seven per cent.
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