Asia's stocks end painful year | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 01, 2009

Asia's stocks end painful year

Asia's markets closed Wednesday to bring down the curtain on a miserable year that saw them lose half their worth in the wake of the global financial meltdown.
Despite a number of bourses gaining some ground over the past few days, the overall picture for 2008 has been one of gloom as the worst economic crisis since the 1930s tore into investor confidence and battered stocks.
By the close of trading on Wednesday Hong Kong and Singapore had been almost halved over the year, Sydney lost more than 40 percent and Shanghai nearly two-thirds.
Tokyo was 42.12 percent down and Seoul 40.73 percent when they closed for the year on Tuesday.
Markets have been hammered by the world economic crisis, which was sparked by the collapse of the sub-prime, or high risk, mortgage market in the United States. This led to US mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae being taken over by the government in September.
But shares went into a tailspin soon after following the failure of Wall Street banking icon Lehman Brothers under a mountain of debt. Giant insurer American International Group then had to be bailed out by Washington.
A 700 billion dollar rescue package for the ailing industry was unable to stop the rot and world markets saw record falls and rises as they headed down.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones was also battered and by the close of trading on Tuesday it was 34.65 percent off its 2007 finish.
Hong Kong finished the year 48.3 percent down on its 2007 close -- its worst annual percentage fall in 34 years.
The benchmark Hang Seng index ended Wednesday 1.1 percent up from the day before but its closing figure of 14,387.48 points is 13,425.17 lower than 12 months ago.
And Peter Lai, sales director of DBS Vickers, told AFP: "We have not reached the bottom yet. The worst will come when investors start to sell their shares in panic next year."

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