Asian Markets: Stocks slump across the region

Asian stock markets closed lower Monday with Japanese shares among the worst performers. The Nikkei Index sank below 10,000 in intraday trading for the first time since July 24. The index then regained some ground, finishing the day at 10,010 -- down 2.5 percent.

Since returning from last week's three-day holiday, Japanese investors have been greeted with nothing but bad news. Today Japan's blue-chip companies retreated with Honda Motor Co. (HNDAF) sliding 5 percent, and Toyota Motor Corp. (TOYOF) dropping 3.8 percent. Shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MSLOF) also lost 5.4 percent.

Nomura Holdings Inc. (NRSCF), which suffered a colossal 16 percent fall on Friday, continued its downward trajectory losing 5.8 percent today. The company announced a massive 5.7 billion share sale last week, giving investors reason to worry.

In China, shares also closed lower with the Shanghai Composite Index hitting a four-week low of 2,764 -- down 2.7 percent.

Chinese commodity producers lost value with Jiangxi Copper Co. (JIXAY) sliding 5.6 percent and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. (ACH) sliding 4 percent. Even while the price of gold closed only slightly lower, just below the $1,000 per ounce price, Zhongjin Gold Co. retreated 5.8 percent and Zijin Mining Group Co. (ZIJMF) fell 3.9 percent. On a brighter note, Shanghai Construction Co. spiked to its 10 percent daily limit, massively outperforming beleaguered building company Metallurgical Corp. of China, which was down another 3.9 percent in Shanghai since its infamous IPO last week.

In Hong Kong, stocks were also lower with the Hang Sang Index losing 2.5 percent to close at 20,588. In its new listing there, Metallurgical also sank, losing 5.2 percent.

Hong Kong-listed gaming companies have been steadily recovering, with Chinese gamblers flocking to neighboring Macau island. Gambling is legal in Macau, and the government has made it easy for Chinese residents to travel to the gaming mecca by easing travel restrictions. But today gambling share prices fell: Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. (GXYEY) plummeted 9.9 percent, Melco International Development Ltd. (MDEVF) plunged 8.2 percent and SJM Holdings Ltd. (SJMHF), the casino holding company controlled by 87-year old billionaire Stanley Ho, plunged 6.7 percent.

All this may not bode well for casino operators like billionaire Stephen Wynn of Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) and Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands (LVS) who are currently planning Hong Kong IPOs. In August, Macau's gambling revenue soared to a record high of 1.4 billion making investments in Macau look like a sure thing.

But judging from today's losses, perhaps such a quick recovery from the global credit crunch is not in the cards for these casino tycoons.
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