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Asian Stocks Turn Mixed, KOSPI Rebounds After Rate Cut

Asian stocks closed mixed in the afternoon session, following a weaker open after U.S. stocks posted their worst two-day slide since October 1987, as layoffs and corporate profit warnings piled up in the face of a rapidly slowing global economy.

Japan's Nikkei share average reversed some of its sharp losses to close 3.55 percent in negative territory, after falling as much as 7 percent at one point. Exporters with good overseas brand recognition, like Canon and Honda Motor, were clobbered for a second day.

Toyota Motor shares traded down by its daily 13 percent limit after the world's top car maker cut in half its net profit forecast for fiscal year 2008 because of dwindling demand. But the stock pared losses to close 9.2 percent lower.

Digital camera maker Olympus ended the session down 9.3 percent after the company posted a 47 percent fall in quarterly operating profit due to sharp declines in camera prices and a firmer yen.

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South Korea's KOSPI staged a comeback by late morning and finished 3.9 percent after the Bank of Korea cut interest rates for the third time in a month, joining other central banks that are scrambling to get ahead of deteriorating conditions. The Bank of England spooked investors on Thursday by slashing its key rate by 1.5 percentage points, bringing borrowing costs down to the lowest since the 1950s.

Exporters in South Korea like Samsung Electronics fell after the International Monetary Fund warned the world's developed economies are headed for the first full-year contraction since World War II. However easier oil, which slipped below $60 per barrel earlier in the session, helped transporters and retail issues including Korean Air Line.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index bounced back into positive territory to finish up more than 3 percent, with Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing shares one of the biggest drags because of grim expectations the company's quarterly results next week will reflect poor
market conditions.

Shares of PC maker Lenovo tumbled as much as 20 percent before trimming losses and closing nearly 8 percent down after it posted a 72 percent plunged in second-quarter net profit on lower shipments and margins amid the global financial crisis.

The Straits Times Index reversed most of its early losses in Singapore to close 2.4 percent up. Shares in DBS Group tumbled as much as 8 percent after Southeast Asia's biggest bank by assets logged a worse-than-expected 38 percent drop in quarterly profit on mounting bad debt charges.

Australian shares closed 2.4 percent lower after an unexpectedly large rate cut in the UK and weak consumer demand in the United States suggested major world economies may endure a pronounced recession.

China's main stock index closed 1.75 percent up in light trade as investors stayed cautious ahead of inflation and other economic data next week.