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Asian Markets Close Lower, India Gains

Asian markets closed lower Monday, but pared back heavy losses suffered in the morning session and India's Sensex eked out a slight gain. Japan ended 2.2 percent lower while South Korea dropped 3.3 percent.

Investors in Asia sold stocks on mounting concerns over the health of the U.S. economy. Adding more selling pressure was the weak U.S. dollar which hit a record low after a meeting of finance chiefs from G7 nations offered no words of support for the currency.

Traders said shares also took cues from Wall Street, which marked its biggest fall in two months on Friday, a slide made more unnerving as it marked the 20th anniversary of 'Black Monday', the 1987 stock market crash.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 average closed at a four-week low after tumbling more than 3.2 percent at one point, with exporters battered by a stronger yen and rising concerns about the U.S. economy that sent Wall Street sliding. Broad selling centered on exporters such as Canon and Sony, although losses were trimmed slightly by short-covering and isolated pockets of strength such as Yahoo Japan

South Korea's KOSPI finished 3.3 percent lower, its lowest close in more than a month, led by exporters such as Kia Motors on fresh worries that a U.S. recession would hurt demand in South Korea's No. 2 export market.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index shed 1.9 percent, led down by U.S.-exposed firms such as Westfield Group and top miners on fresh worries that the U.S. housing slump was infecting the wider economy.

Singapore's Straits Times Index finished down 2.8 percent, led by losses in Singapore Telecommunications and banks.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was 3.7 percent lower and China plays dropped as sharp declines in global equities prompted investors to book profits in recent gainers such as oil refiner Sinopec. But recent high flyer PetroChina, the country's top oil producer, reversed earlier losses to move into positive territory.

Chinese stocks fell because of weakness in global equity markets and fears of tighter monetary policy, but they came well off intraday lows, showing some investors think the bull run will not
pause for long.