Domino Effect Sends Asian Markets Down

Asian markets plummet
Asian markets plummet

Shares in Asia plummeted Friday, following the turmoil in the U.S. markets. In Japan the Nikkei tumbled 3.1% to 10,365 and in China the Shanghai Composite Index sank 1.9% to 2,688. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1% to end the day at 19,920.

In Tokyo, shares were sharply down, with shares in everything from cement to cameras sinking. Exporters suffered a double whammy, reeling from both the fall in the euro as a result of the Greek debt debacle and the domino effect of the plunge in the U.S. markets. Among consumer electronics makers Sharp tumbled 6.4%, Konica Minolta sank 5.1%, Canon slid 3.9% and Sony declined 3.2%.

Fanuc, which makes robotic parts for factories that speed up sorting and packaging of products, nosedived 6.8%, Oki Electric, a maker of computer equipment and ATM machines, lost 5.3% and Mitsumi Electric, which makes a range of electronic parts from CD-ROM drives to remote controls, slid 5.1%.

Financial services companies were hard hit with Sumitomo Mitsui losing 3.5%, Nomura dropping 2.6% and Mitsubishi UFJ dipping 2.5%.

Property developers plunged with Tokyu Land diving 5.2%, Heiwa Real Estate losing 4.6% and Mitsubishi Estate falling 3.1%. Other companies with big losses included Nippon Sheet Glass, which plunged 6.8%, Fast Retailing, which tumbled 6% and Nippon Soda, which lost 5%. Nintendo, maker of the Wii game console that is hoping to make a comeback, shed a whopping 7.7%.

In China, worries that a slowdown in world economies could affect demand for air travel sent shares in airlines lower. China Southern Airlines plunged 5.6%, China Eastern Airlines fell 5% and Air China dropped 4.7%. Commodities also lost value with Jiangxi Copper dropping 3.7%, Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chalco, falling 3.1% and Shandong Nanshan Aluminum sinking 3.2%.

Several Chinese stocks made gains today, bucking the domino effect. In China, Shandong Dong-E E-Jiao, a traditional medicine company whose signature product is a blood remedy made from donkey skin, surged 5.1%. Shandong Gold rose 4.5%. Heilongjiang Agriculture, a rice and soybean company, rocketed up 7.2%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng held its own, with banks and financial companies bearing the brunt of the global sell-off. HSBC shed 4.3%, Bank of Communications fell 1.9% and Bank of China lost 0.8%. Other big losers included Esprit, whose European shoppers are not much in the mood for buying party clothes in the midst of the debt crisis. Its stock dropped 5.1%, and Li & Fung, which exports large amounts of clothes and fashion accessories to the U.S. and Europe, receded 3%.

Hong Kong companies trading in jewelry were out of favor today with fine jewelry company Eternite International plunging 5.7% and King Fook Holdings dipping 2.2%. But gold miners were among Hong Kong's best performers with Zijin Mining racking up a 4.2% gain and Real Gold Mining advancing 3.2%. Perhaps investors, rattled by the stock market's turbulent swings, are searching for another place to put their money.