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South Korean investigators looking into allegations the president-elect was involved in securities fraud said on Thursday they found no wrongdoing, defusing a scandal that analysts said could have undermined his authority.
Asian markets closed sharply lower Wednesday with Japan losing over 3 percent lower and both Australia and South Korea ending around 2 percent down.
Asian stocks ended mostly in the green Tuesday as investors, sought undervalued bank shares and exporters that could gain from a modestly stronger U.S. dollar. Japan, South Korea and Australia all closed stronger.
Asian stocks closed mixed Monday, as investors shrugged off a rash of weak economic indicators to keep most markets afloat. Japan and South Korea closed just a touch higher, which the Hong Kong market fell.
Asian stocks ended the week with a mixed session Friday, but off their earlier lows. Japan closed almost flat despite making sharp losses in the morning. South Korea finished just slightly lower.
Asian markets surged in the afternoon session, buoyed by a surprise increase in U.S. retail sales and unexpectedly strong growth figures for the Japanese economy. Both Tokyo and Seoul closed over 4 percent higher.
Asian markets received an early boost after billionaire investor Warren Buffett made an offer to take on $800 billion of U.S. municipal bond risk. But many of the Asian indexes gave back earlier gains to close mixed. Indian and Hong Kong stocks closed firmly higher, while China and Australia fell.
Asian markets were slightly higher on Tuesday driven by a rebound in the U.S., but financials remained fragile after American International Group raised fears it would become the latest casualty of the credit crisis.
Oil and precious metals rose on supply concerns on Monday in thin holiday trade in Asia, while the few stock markets that were open, such as South Korea and Australia, unravelled on fear the credit crunch would spread further.
The Japanese market fell 1.4 percent in a quiet Friday session. But Australia finished 1.1 percent higher. Volumes were thin with many investors away for the lunar new year.
Japan ended higher Thursday, rebounding from early losses, but Australia closed lower, hitting a five-day low as investors remained sidelined after recent signs that the U.S. economy is headed into recession.
Asian markets tanked in the afternoon session Wednesday, sending investors on a selling spree after unexpectedly weak service sector data in the United States and Europe fueled fears of a recession. Japan plunged over 4 percent and Hong Kong closed more than 5 percent lower.
Asian markets continued their weak run Tuesday with financial stocks sinking after U.S. credit card firms and banks were downgraded, stoking fears their troubles could spread to the global sector.
Asian markets rallied Monday, as Microsoft's bid for Yahoo and China's purchase of a large stake in takeover target Rio Tinto boosted optimism over share valuations. Japan added 2.6 percent while South Korea advanced 3.4 percent.
Despite hefty interest rate cuts by the U.S. Federal Reserve this week, investors were still worried about the health of the U.S. economy and the global ramifications of a slowdown. Asian markets ended mixed Friday, with Japan closing lower but Australia jumping 3.4 percent.
Asian stocks had a jittery session Thursday with markets dipping in and out of negative territory as fears of a possible downgrade of U.S. bond insurers hit financials. Both Japan and South Korea finished higher despite a negative start to the session.
Asian stocks were suffering a case of the nerves ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later Wednesday. Markets started the session on a strong note, but then slipped into negative territory with Hong Kong closing 2.6 percent lower and Japan shedding 1 percent.
Expectations of a further cut in U.S. interest rates buoyed most Asian stocks Tuesday. Japan finished nearly up 3 percent, but the Australian market bucked the positive trend to close almost 2.5 percent lower.
Asian stocks took a beating Monday with Japan and South Korea both closing almost 4 percent lower.
Asian markets ended a volatile week with a firm rally on Friday, which brought most of the major indexes back to Monday's opening levels. A U.S. tax stimulus package, reassuring jobs data and the prospect of another Federal Reserve rate cut buoyed investor sentiment.