Asian stocks slide after Wall Street plunge

Asian stocks fell sharply on Thursday, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 427.63 points to close under 8,000 points for the first time in more than five years.


HONG KONG - A rout in Asia pushed world stocks to their lowest in 5-½   years on Thursday, while oil fell to below $53 a barrel and government bonds surged as economic data indicated a global recession could get even uglier.

Investors are bracing for tough conditions ahead after the latest bearish signals for the global economy: The Federal Reserve slashed its U.S. growth forecasts, U.S. consumer prices fell at a record pace last month, and Japan's October exports fell by the most in seven years.

The bleak outlook, which is hitting sectors from South Korean chip makers to U.S. auto makers, comes amid renewed worries about the global financial system. Citigroup shares tumbled to a 13-year low on Wednesday as investors questioned survival prospects..

"Everybody is accepting the fact that we are in for a prolonged global recession and we are seeing a lot of pullbacks," said Lucinda Chan, a division director with Macquarie Equities in Australia.

Like dominoes, Asian markets fell a day after U.S. stocks hit their lowest in more than five years. The MSCI All-Country World Index was down 0.7 percent at 0200 GMT, having hit its lowest level since May 2003.

The rout was especially pronounced in Japan, where the Nikkei average dropped 4.3 percent, and below the key technical level of 8,000 points for the first time in three weeks.

South Korean shares tumbled more than 4 percent too, while markets from Sydney to Singapore and Taiwan fell between 1-3 percent each.

Oil prices meanwhile dropped for a fifth straight session to below $53 a barrel.

Oil on Wednesday fell to its lowest settlment since late January 2007 as investors expect a sharp slowdown in demand for a commodity that just in July hit a record high at about $147 a barrel.

"The lack of any positive news on the demand front as well as continued global economic turmoil continue to result in a dearth of bullish news," said Jonathan Kornafel, Asia director of Hudson Capital Energy.

Investors are finding plenty to worry about. Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday pared their outlook for growth in the world's biggest economy to minimal levels.

The weaker forecast came on a day in which data showed U.S. consumer prices in October posted their biggest drop since monthly records began in 1947, while new-home buildings slumped to fresh lows.

The sharply weaker growth in the United States and most of Europe bodes ill for Asian economies that need healthy overseas demand for their products. Japan on Thursday said exports logged their biggest annual decline in seven years in October.

The worrisome outlook sent regional bonds surging as investors sought safety.

The yield for Japanese 10-year government bond futures fell to as low as 1.430 percent, the lowest since early October.

December 10-year JGB futures rose as high as 139.34, up 0.51 point on the day and the highest in a month.

The yen also benefited from the aversion to risk, holding near one-week highs against both the dollar and the euro. The dollar was buying 95.83 yen while the euro was at 119.85 yen.

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