Hong Kong: Asian stocks closed mostly down on Monday despite moves in the US to shore up the country’s huge but troubled mortgage sector, with investors also jittery ahead of key economic data.
Taiwan and Australia led the declines among major markets, falling more than 1%. Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore also fell in the wake of a Wall Street slide on Friday.
The weak Asian performance came after US treasury secretary Henry Paulson announced on Sunday bigger credit lines for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which offer vital support to the multi-trillion-dollar US mortgage market.
The move initially cheered some Asian investors on Monday, but the optimism soon waned. Dealers said there was nervousness ahead of upcoming results from heavyweight US banks and testimony from US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.
The Chinese stock market bucked the trend to close modestly up, but like most Asian bourses is heavily in the red for 2008.
Beijing is due to publish major economic data this week, including economic growth and inflation numbers.
India fell more than 1%, dragged lower by a 10% slide in leading generic drugs maker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. Reports said the US department of justice was investigating the firm for violations in product manufacture and branding.
Elsewhere, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and New Zealand ended lower, although the Philippines rose.
High oil prices also continued to hang over the region, after reaching fresh record levels of about $147 (Rs6,291) per barrel on Friday.
In Tokyo, Japanese share prices ended with modest losses, giving up early gains as optimism over US steps to shore up two troubled mortgage giants receded, dealers said.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 29.53 points, or 0.23%, to end at 13,010.16. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares slipped 5.19 points, or 0.4%, to 1,280.72.
In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong share prices closed down 0.77%. The Hang Seng Index ended the day down 170.09 points at 22,014.46.
Turnover was light at 58.40 billion Hong Kong dollars (Rs32,332 crore).
In Shanghai, Chinese share prices closed up 0.76%, dealers said. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A and B shares, closed up 21.62 points at 2,878.26 on turnover of 59.5 billion yuan (Rs37,657 crore).
Taiwan share prices closed down 1.21% in Taipei, dealers said. The weighted index fell 87.80 points at 7,156.96 on turnover of 94.87 billion Taiwan dollars (Rs13,471 crore).
South Korean share prices closed 0.6% lower ni Seoul, dealers said. The Kospi index ended down 8.89 points at 1,558.62.
Singapore share prices closed 0.78% weaker, dealers said. The blue chip Straits Times Index finished 22.72 points lower at 2,904.12.