Asian markets finished mixed Thursday with financial stocks taking a hit while strong Chinese economic data raised investors' concern over the prospects of further monetary tightening. The Shanghai Composite sank 4.8 percent, but South Korea closed over 2 percent higher.
The mood was already jittery following a report from Merrill Lynch, which detailed the biggest quarterly loss in its history. Merrill wrote off $8.4 billion, mostly from bad investments related to risky subprime mortgage Wednesday. This, along with weak U.S. housing data, offered more evidence that the worst of the mortgage-related crisis may not yet be over.
The Nikkei 225 Average closed down 0.45 percent as a strong yen nailed exporters such as Canon, while bank shares weakened after massive Merrill Lynch losses further stoked credit fears.