Asian Stocks Slumping in Midday Trading

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 11:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Asian stock markets have sustained massive losses during Friday's trading session, a day after stocks plunged on U.S. and European exchanges.

Japan's Nikkei index lost over two percent by midday, while indexes in both Hong Kong and Sydney lost nearly two and one-half percent. Seoul's Kospi index had plunged well over four percent by midday.

On Thursday, the DAX index in Germany fell almost 7 percent at one point, and the U.S. benchmark Dow index was off more than 4 percent. Losses on both exchanges eased somewhat in later trading Thursday.

The sell-off followed forecasts of lower economic growth and continuing worries about the European debt crisis. Thursday also saw U.S. economic reports showing rising inflation and layoffs coupled with falling home sales.

Oil prices fell because investors expect lower economic growth will cut the demand and price for energy.

Another reflection of investor concern is shown by new record high prices for gold which is traditionally seen as a safe haven for investor's money in troubled times.

Investors seeking safety also bought up U.S. treasury bonds. As more investors bought up the U.S. debt, Washington was able to offer lower interest rates for the use of the money. Interest rates on some kinds of U.S. debt fell to record lows.