US & European Stocks Plunge; Gold Surges

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 9:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Stock prices opened sharply lower in Asia Friday, a day after stocks plunged on U.S. and European exchanges.

Japan's Nikkei index was down about 2 percent in early trading Friday while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down nearly 2.7 percent.

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.