Subprime fears trigger Asia plunge

Regional bourses open sharply lower following Wall Street's steep decline.

    The plunge came after the Dow fell 387.18, or 2.83 per cent, to 13,270.68 in New York on Thursday [AP]
    Hong Kong stocks fell 3.1 per cent in opening trade. As of 10:28am (02:28 GMT), the Hang Seng index was down 694.51 points at 21,744.85, off a low of 21,661.05 and a high of 21,801.24.
     
    The Korea Composite Stock Price Index fell as much as 70.33 points, or 3.7 per cent, to 1,838.35 before rebounding slightly.
     

    In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was down 174.0 points or 2.8 per cent at 5,991.6, having been as low as 5,982.5 earlier in the session.

     

    The broader All Ordinaries Index was down 173.4 points or 2.8 per cent at 6,104.3.

     

    Frozen funds

     

    The plunge came after the Dow Jones industrial average fell 387.18, or 2.83 per cent, to 13,270.68 in New York on Thursday after a French bank announced it was freezing funds that invested in US subprime mortgages, deepening fears of a credit crunch.

     

    Before Thursday, the S&P had its best three-day winning streak in nearly five years. But the latest pullback was the biggest point drop and percentage loss for both the Dow and the S&P since a market decline on February 27.

     

    Amid Friday's decline, the Bank of Japan said it had injected $8.4bn into money markets to curb rises in a key overnight interest rate.

     

    The injection followed similar moves by its European and US counterparts overnight.

     

    The European Central Bank provided more than $130bn to money markets, the bank's biggest infusion ever.

     

    The US Federal Reserve also added a larger-than-normal $24bn in temporary reserves to the US banking system.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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