Here We Go Again: Asia Markets Crash

Japan down 7%, Korea 7%.  Hong Kong and Singapore down 5%.  Here’s coverage before the last of the plunge.

From the WSJ: Japanese stocks dropped sharply early Wednesday as exporters such as Honda Motor fell on a strengthened yen, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group declined on a report that it has decided to cut its half-yearly profit forecast.

The Nikkei 225 Average fell 6.2% to 8725.75 in late trading, after rising for three straight sessions, and the broader Topix index gave up 5.9% to 900.4. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 6.8% to 1114.59, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 3.4% to 4156.10, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was 2.86% lower at 14610.49 and Shanghai’s Composite Index was down 2% at 1919.18.

The regionwide decline came after sharp losses on Wall Street overnight, in the wake of missed earnings reports and bleak forecasts from Texas Instruments, Sun Microsystems and DuPont.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group declined 5.5% after the Nikkei business daily said the banking giant has decided to cut the net profit forecast for the fiscal first half ended September 30 from the 270 billion yen ($2.7 billion) figure it had projected earlier… Exporters dropped sharply on a strengthened yen, with Canon shrinking 3.5%, Honda Motor declining 4.5% and Toyota Motor losing 1.6%. The drop in Toyota shares came after the Nikkei reported that the company’s 2008 sales were expected to drop 2% from the previous year, marking the first year-to-year decline in a decade.

And more from the NYT:

In Tokyo, NEC Electronics plummeted about 20 per cent on Wednesday after slashing its operating profit forecast for the year ending March 2009 by 90 per cent to 1 billion yen, or $10 million, citing weak demand.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong dropped 2.9 per cent and the Straits Times index in Singapore fell 3.6 per cent in the afternoon, while the Kospi in South Korea shed as much as 7.9 per cent. Taiwan fell 1.6 per cent and in Australia the S&P/ASX 200 closed 3.4 per cent lower.

The yen, which has been soaring for months, hit a four-year high against the euro, which traded at around 127.97 yen on Wednesday. The dollar was at 99.68 yen.

A rise in the yen, damaging to exporters like Toyota and Honda compounded worries about slowing economic growth in Japan, which is teetering on the brink of a recession.

The euro slumped against the dollar to as low as $1.2771, a level last seen in November 2006, as some major investors sold positions favouring European and higher-yielding currencies to raise cash.

U.S. crude oil futures fell $3 a barrel to $69.45 Wednesday afternoon in Asia.

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