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Asian Stock Markets Close Lower

January 19, 2000

HONG KONG (AP) _ Asian stock markets tumbled Wednesday as overnight losses on Wall Street and fears of rising interest rates exacerbated negative local factors.

In Tokyo, stocks slipped 1.6 percent, dragged down by the decline in New York.

The benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average shed 298.82 points to 18,897.75. On Tuesday, the average closed down 240.66 points, or 1.24 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.4 percent to 11,560.72 on Tuesday.

In Jakarta, prices plunged 4.3 percent as investors sold shares across the board, fearing religious violence in eastern Indonesia might spread around the archipelago.

Declines in regional markets also triggered selling on the local bourse.

``The whole region is in pretty bad shape, which made locals very panicked,″ said Darwin Sutanto, head of sales at ING Barings in Jakarta.

The JSX Composite Index ended down 29.721 points to 655.995.

Share prices in Seoul and Hong Kong also ended sharply lower on Wall Street’s decline.

South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index plummeted 4.4 percent, or 42.75 points, to 938.78.

Local institutional investors sold off shares that were trading at lower values than in the futures market, traders said.

Hong Kong’s blue-chip Hang Seng Index fell 513.86 points, or 3.3 percent, to 15,275.34. On Tuesday, the index rose 214.64 points, or 1.4 percent.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar strengthened against the yen. The dollar was trading at 105.52 yen in Tokyo late Wednesday, up 0.34 yen from late Tuesday but below its late New York level of 105.72 yen overnight.

Elsewhere:

SINGAPORE: Shares prices closed sharply lower as foreign brokerages continued to sell local stocks and buy into neighboring countries’ markets. The Straits Times Index fell 64.90 points, or 2.8 percent, to 2,254.87.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian share prices ended lower as investors sold off shares following recent gains. The Composite Index fell 16.24 points, or 1.7 percent, to 933.38.

MANILA: Philippine shares fell on Wall Street’s losses amid concerns of rising U.S. interest rates. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 26.31 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,048.53.

SYDNEY: Australian share prices closed lower as investors sold interest rate-related stocks and media issues. The All Ordinaries Index fell 45.8 points, or 1.5 percent, to 3,105.4.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand share prices finished slightly lower following a rise in local interest rates. The NZSE-40 Capital Index shed 6.20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,123.80.

TAIPEI: Taiwan shares ended lower as investors sold technology shares following recent gains. The Weighted Price Index fell 98.75 points, or 1.07 percent, to 9,151.44.

BANGKOK: Thai shares closed marginally higher on buying in banking stocks ahead of the release of year-end results. The SET Index ended up 2.17 points, or 0.5 percent, at 486.33.

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