Asia stocks fall amid global worry

Chinese stocks slump again, down almost three per cent at close of trading.

    Japanese shares continued a downward
    slide on Thursday [EPA]
    "You're starting to see more of a consensus that the market is in a correction, as we see most blue chips stocks, like Industrial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Life Insurance falling sharply."
     
    But while many blue chips companies fell, Ping An Insurance, which made its market debut on Thursday, soared 38.4 per cent on strong demand for new shares.
     
    Locking in profits
     
    Investors heavily unloaded Chinese shares on Tuesday amid speculation about a fresh round of austerity measures from Beijing to slow the nation's sizzling economy.
     

    "Stocks need some more time to return to a rising trend"

    Shun Maruyama, equity strategist at Credit Suisse

    The following day, amid a slight rebound, officials were quick to deny rumours that the Chinese government would start levying taxes on capital gains made on stock investments.
     
    Comments by Wen Jiabao, China's prime minister, that China would promote the "safe and steady" reform of its financial sector and push capital market reforms to a "new stage", helped the bourse to a short-lived recovery before it slumped again on Thursday.
     
    Melissa Chan, reporting for Al Jazeera from Beijing, said: "It's quite a rollercoaster and its a little shocking for the Chinese who have seen such steady growth over the last few years ... but the Chinese are used to speculators sending the market up and down."

    Justin Urquhart Stewart, from Seven Investment Management, told Al Jazeera: "We've had some pretty good gains over recent years, so is it time for a correction? Yes it probably is."
     
    Across Asia
     
    Shares in Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia also retreated mildly on Thursday, though bourses in the Philippines and New Zealand rebounded.
     
    On the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Asia's biggest stock market, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell 150.61 points, or 0.86 per cent, to finish at 17,453.51. Hong Kong stocks were down 1.1 per cent, while Kuala Lumpur was 0.82 per cent lower.
     
    Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX200 index shed 0.4 per cent and Singapore was down 1.25 per cent.
     
    On Taiwan's stock exchange, which was closed Wednesday and missed the market sell-off, the benchmark index dropped 2.8 per cent.
     
    Asia, where export-oriented economies rely heavily on US demand, has seen its markets surge in recent months only to plunge recently when, on Tuesday, the Shanghai index saw its biggest one-day decline in a decade.
     
    "Asia and Japan are highly dependent on the US economy," said Shun Maruyama, an equity strategist with Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
     
    "Stocks need some more time to return to a rising trend."
     
    Tuesday's selling on Asia's bourses spread to Europe and New York.
     
    But on Wednesday, Wall Street rebounded after from a 416-point plunge in the Dow, following remarks made to Congress by by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, that he still expected moderate US economic growth.
     
    The Dow ended Wednesday up 52.39 points, or 0.43 per cent, at 12,268.63.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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