Asian Stock Markets Slip After Rally

Asian stock markets slipped Wednesday after a two-day rally, tracking Wall Street lower amid concerns that worldwide efforts to boost the financial system won't be enough to stave off a global recession.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index shed 89.98 points, or 0.95 percent to 9,357.59 after surging 14 percent in the previous session — its biggest single-day gain ever. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 381.10, or 2.26 percent, to 16,451.78 after rising more than 13 percent the previous two days.

Markets in Australia, South Korea, China and Taiwan were also lower.

The drop followed U.S. markets, where major benchmarks pulled back after President George W. Bush announced the government would use part of the $700 billion financial bailout to pump capital into major banks and help get lending flowing again. European governments are investing about $2 trillion in their own ailing banks.

Despite the measures, concerns about the global economy and company profits were still weighing heavily on markets, analysts said.

"We had a huge rally on Monday and Tuesday, so there has to be some profit-taking," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist for CFC Seymour in Hong Kong. "There's also more clarity about damage to the economy, and investors are likely to conclude that the rally at the beginning of the week overstates the potential for earnings."

Overnight, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 76.62, or 0.82 percent, to 9,310.99. U.S. stock futures were mixed. Dow futures were down 48 points, or 0.5 percent, to 9,314, while Nasdaq futures were up 5.25, or 0.4 percent, to 1,371.

Asian stocks, even after the recent surge, are down sharply since the financial turmoil escalated last month.

Since Sept. 12, the last session before U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Inc. collapsed, the Nikkei has lost 23 percent and the Hang Seng has shed 13 percent. Australia's benchmark is down 12 percent and Taiwan's key index off 17 percent.

Oil slipped. Light, sweet crude for November delivery was changing hands at $78.02 in Asian trade, down 61 cents. The contract fell $2.56 overnight to settle at $78.63 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar weakened to 101.36 yen. The euro was little changed at $1.3575.

On Tuesday, a drop in a key bank-to-bank lending rate indicated banks might be growing more willing to lend to one another. The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, for three-month dollar loans fell to 4.64 percent from 4.75 percent.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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