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Asian stock markets down amid economic pessimism

Asian stock markets down amid economic pessimism

August 18th, 2011 by PAMELA SAMPSON, AP Business Writer in News

BANGKOK (AP) - Asian stocks sank Thursday after an uneven day on Wall Street added to pessimism about the global economic outlook and Japan announced that exports had fallen for the fifth straight month in July.

Oil prices hovered above $87 a barrel while the dollar was higher against the euro and the yen.

Technology shares were battered after Dell Inc. on Wednesday cut its prediction for revenue growth this year. South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor plummeted 9.4 percent and Samsung Electronics Co. tumbled 5.6 percent. China's Lenovo Group, the world's No. 3 personal computer manufacturer, fell 2.7 percent.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was down 0.4 percent to 9,019.52 after the finance ministry said exports fell 3.3 percent from a year earlier to 5.78 trillion yen ($75.6 billion). The downturn was largely due to the strong yen and the ongoing impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi lost 1.7 percent to 1,860.10.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was marginally higher at 20,308.11 with shares of stock market operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. jumping 6 percent after it announced it's in talks with its counterparts in mainland China to set up a joint venture to develop new financial products.

Benchmarks in Singapore and Indonesia also rose.

Meanwhile, sentiment in Australia was dragged down by disappointing corporate earnings. The S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 4,277.60.

"What we've seen is companies on the whole not beating earnings estimates during reporting season, and that's probably leading people to rethink valuations given the strong performance of the past few days in the markets," said Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion Australian dollars at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne.

On Wednesday in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.28 points to 11,410.21. The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,193.89. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.5 percent to 2,511.48.

Economic growth is weak around the world, and some economists worry that a second recession may be coming.

Investors are also worried about Europe. Some countries have borrowed so much that they may not be able to repay their bonds, and economic growth there has slowed. Concerns about a possible default by a European country have dominated the market in recent weeks.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 26 cents to $87.32 in Asia. The contract settled at $87.58 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday.

The euro dropped to $1.4405 from $1.4451 in late trading in New York. The dollar strengthened to 76.65 yen from 76.48 yen.