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16 April 2024

Asian stocks plunge amid fears of slowdown

By Agencies

Asian stocks fell, led by finance and consumer companies, as Japan's economy shrank the most since 1974 and Group of Seven finance chiefs said the economic slowdown will persist through most of 2009.

Japan's Nikkei stock average edged down, shrugging off data showing Japan's economy suffered its biggest fall in over three decades.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.4 per cent to 7,750.17. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 0.8 per cent, while New Zealand's NZX 50 Index lost 2.6 per cent. Most markets in Asia declined.

But the overall Japanese market got a boost from gains in a wide array of defensive shares such as drug maker Daiichi Sankyo as investors sought stocks seen as resilient in the face of economic distress.

Nippon Paper Group, Japan's second-largest paper maker, rose 2.2 per cent after saying it was considering buying Australian Paper from Australia's Paperlinx. Electronics maker Pioneer Corp, which last week forecast a record loss, slumped 8.5 per cent to 130 yen.

Fast Retailing, Japan's number one clothing retailer, lost 4.3 per cent to 10,650 yen. Shikoku Electric gained 3.3 per cent to 2,960 yen. Toho Gas Co climbed 4.3 per cent to 533 yen, while Tokyo Electric Power, Asia's biggest generator, rallied 2.8 per cent to 2,760 yen.

Fisher & Paykel plummeted 35 per cent to 65 New Zealand cents. The company, which makes about 80 per cent of its sales outside the country, said it may break even in the 12 months ending March 31, after reporting a profit of NZ$54.2 million (Dh102m) a year earlier.

Brambles lost 12 per cent to A$5.65 as the slump in first-half profit prompted the company to cut operations in the US and eliminate 750 jobs.

In China, Citic Securities rose 4.1 per cent to 26.47 yuan. Haitong Securities, China's second-largest brokerage, jumped 4.2 per cent to 14.49 yuan.