HONG KONG (AP) _ Asian stock markets closed mostly lower Wednesday, with Hong Kong and Taipei dragged down by Wall Street's latest losses and the Philippine exchange hurt by political tension.

Markets in Tokyo were closed Wednesday for Constitution Day and will remain closed until Monday for other Japanese holidays.

In Hong Kong, the blue chip Hang Seng Index dropped 240.29 points, or 1.5 percent, to 15,577.47. The Hang Seng had risen 1.9 percent Tuesday.

Investors dumped technology and telecommunications stocks, whose prices had gone up in recent sessions. They used Tuesday's sharp fall on Wall Street as an excuse to sell, although selling pressure wasn't extremely intense, analysts said.

In New York, the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 4.4 percent on Tuesday, and the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.7 percent.

Many investors remained on the sidelines ahead the U.S. Federal Reserve's next policy meeting on May 16, said Samson Chau, a salesman with BNP Prime Peregrine Securities Ltd.

Analysts expect the Fed to raise interest rates, which could drag down share prices because higher rates hurt corporate profits by raising borrowing costs while making some investments such as bonds more attractive.

In Taipei, share prices fell 2.5 percent to a four-month closing low. The Weighted Price Index dropped 218.75 points to 8,420.00.

The market was hurt by lingering concerns, such as Nasdaq's future direction, Taiwan's tensions with China and the possible U.S. rate hike, said Li Cheng-i, an assistant manager at Fubon Securities Co.

In Manila, the main stock index fell to its lowest closing level in more than 18 months on political and economic uncertainties.

An escalating armed conflict between government troops and Muslim rebels dragged down the market, said Jose Vistan, research head at Wise Securities Philippines.

The Philippine Stock Exchange Index fell 13.36 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,592.68, its lowest level since ending at 1,592.50 on Oct. 27, 1998.

Elsewhere:

BANGKOK: Thai shares fell on losses in banking and finance stocks, pressured by the weakening Thai currency, the baht, and Wall Street's fall. The SET Composite index fell 5.64 points, or 1.5 percent, to 379.80.

JAKARTA: Indonesian shares rose on hopes the government would soon sign a new agreement with the International Monetary Fund, paving the way for it to resume leading to Indonesia by June. The JSX Composite Index rose 4.057 points, or 0.8 percent, to 535.311.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares rose on late buying by local investors and some foreigners. The Composite Index closed at 904.55 points, up 4.24 points, or 0.5 percent.

SEOUL: South Korean shares rose slightly on late buying by local financial institutions. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index rose 0.17 points, or 0.02 percent, to 752.76.

SINGAPORE: Share prices fell as a recent rally lost steam. The Straits Times Index closed at 2,145.23 points, down 21.62, or 1 percent.

SYDNEY: Australian stocks fell, led by losses in telecommunication and media stocks. The All Ordinaries Index dropped 22.4 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,076.7.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand stocks closed higher on gains in local forestry shares. The NZSE-40 Capital Index rose 7.92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,033.55.