Most Asian Stock Markets Close Lower
HONG KONG (AP) _ Most Asian stock markets closed lower Tuesday, with prices falling in Tokyo for a third straight session following the collapse of a life insurance company.
The Japanese benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 166.52 points, or 1.04 percent, to close at 15,827.72. On Friday, the average closed down 105.02 points, or 0.65 percent.
Financial markets in Tokyo were closed Monday for a national holiday.
The Nikkei opened lower after Chiyoda Mutual Life, a mid-size insurer, filed for bankruptcy Monday in the largest failure of a life insurer in Japan since World War II.
The Financial Services Agency, the national financial regulator, said Chiyoda Mutual’s liabilities exceeded assets by $315 million at the end of September.
Also pushing down the market was continued weakness on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.11 points to 10,568.43 at Monday’s close. The Nasdaq composite index lost 5.45 points to end at 3,355.56.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was quoted at 108.32 yen, down 0.47 yen from late Friday in Tokyo and also lower than its late New York level of 108.83 yen overnight.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 139.39 points, or 0.9 percent, closing at 15,554.11. On Monday, the index had slumped 491.18 points, or 3.03 percent.
Brokers attributed the downtrend to continued profit-taking following recent gains in share prices.
There were also renewed concerns about U.S. inflation after the U.S. Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in unemployment on Friday.
Philippine markets were badly battered for a second day by allegations that President Joseph Estrada received millions of dollars in kickbacks from illegal gambling operations, traders said.
The dollar surged to a new record high of 46.890 pesos on the Philippine Dealing System after closing at 46.550 pesos Monday.
The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index dropped 32.79 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,332.22 _ its lowest closing level since Oct. 14, 1998, when it finished at 1,324.22.
The market was closed in Taiwan for a public holiday.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares closed higher after Fletcher Challenge energy division rose ted on news of its $1.63 billion sale to Royal Dutch Shell and U.S.-based Apache. The NZSE-40 Capital Index rose 22.50 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,948.44.
SYDNEY: Australian share prices closed lower, dragged down by selling in most telecommunications and insurance stocks. The All Ordinaries Index fell 9.3 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,216.9.
SEOUL: South Korean share prices closed slightly lower. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index slipped 0.84 point to 588.34.
JAKARTA: Indonesian shares closed lower on foreign-led selling. The Composite Index fell 0.6 percent, or 2.449 points, to 412.915.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian share prices closed higher, with government-linked funds buying select blue chip stocks to support the key index above the 700 points psychological level. The Composite Index rose 0.9 percent, or 6.26 points, to 711.25.
SINGAPORE: Share prices closed higher on bargain-hunting. The Straits Times Index rose 26.63 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,913.81.
BANGKOK: Thai shares fell to a new two-year closing low on foreign selling. The Stock Exchange of Thailand’s SET index fell 4.31 points, or 1.7 percent, to 256.98.