Asian stocks continued the negative start to the year Monday as many indexes sank to two-week lows, but Chinese and Indian indexes managed robust gains. Taiwan's TIAEX closed over 4 percent lower and Singapore' Straits Times Index ended 2.5 percent down.
U.S. stocks tumbled on Friday, dragging the Dow to its worst three-day start to a year since
the Great Depression, as a 5 percent rise in the unemployment rate heightened fears the economy is heading into a recession. Technology shares were the worst performer in a broad-based decline after chipmaker Intel skidded 8.1 percent on concerns that businesses are unlikely to upgrade computer equipment in the face of a slowdown.
Exporters were hit hard, particularly chip makers following downgrades of the sector by a couple of U.S. brokerages last week. Japanese microchip equipment maker Tokyo Electron fell 3 percent, while South Korean chipmaker Samsung Electronics was down over 3 percent. Taiwan's TSMC, the world's biggest contract chipmaker, dropped over 6 percent
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average finished down 1.3 percent to hit a new 17-month low, beaten down by fresh worries about the U.S. economy that sent Wall Street tumbling and prompted investors to sell chip-related shares.
South Korea's KOSPI shed 1.7 percent to a six-week closing low after weak U.S. jobs data stirred fears of a recession in South Korea's second-biggest export market, hitting exporters such as Hyundai Motor. Hyundai Motor fell 2.7 percent. Chipmakers took their cue from the world's top chip maker Intel's tumble on Wall Street, with Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor both sharply lower.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 2.3 percent to its lowest close since late August, hit by heightened fears of a recession in the U.S. following weak jobs data. Shares in BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, and rival Rio Tinto both closed down, amid concern about the impact of a U.S. slowdown on global demand. Stocks with significant U.S. exposure also fell, such as building materials maker James Hardie Industries and Westfield Group, the world's top shopping mall operator.
Singapore's Straits Times Index fell 2.5 percent as poor U.S. jobs data heightened investor fears of a possible recession in the world's biggest economy. Singapore Telecommunications, Southeast Asia's biggest telecom, led the decliners. Financial stocks were also among top losers. United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking were both lower.
Hong Kong blue chips fell 1.2 percent as investors feared the onset of a recession in
the world's largest economy after the U.S. jobless rate rose sharply in December, depressing HSBC Holdings to a two-year low. But several large-caps bucked the downtrend, with China
Railway Group leaping on news it had won a bid in a contract for a Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway. China National Materials also rallied after the company said it would build three new production lines.
China's Shanghai Composite Index was 0.6 percent higher. Most Chinese shares rose, continuing to outperform tumbling foreign markets, although profit-taking in some major
Chinese blue chips dampened the main index.