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Asia: Markets sink further on global economy fears


[HONG KONG] Asian markets suffered fresh selling pressure Friday while the dollar dipped and oil hit multi-year lows following another round of losses on Wall Street fuelled by global growth concerns.

There was little movement immediately after China released data showing a better-than-expected jump in exports and imports.

Investors are also warily watching events in Hong Kong as police begin removing barricades erected by pro-democracy protestors that have jammed up some of the city's main roads for the past two weeks.

Hong Kong lost 0.59 per cent, Shanghai dipped 0.50 per cent, Sydney lost 0.58 per cent and Seoul eased 0.55 per cent.

Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.

Global markets have been sent into a tailspin in recent weeks as traders fret over the state of the global economy, with China, the eurozone and Japan struggling despite the United States clawing its way back to health.

The latest indicators on the global outlook came from Beijing Monday, with official data showing exports rose 15.3 per cent year-on-year and imports climbed 7.0 per cent.

The rise in exports accelerated from August's 9.4 per cent and was ahead of the median forecast of 12.5 per cent. The survey had predicted a fall of 2.4 per cent in imports, matching a surprise decline in August.

While the figures beat expectations, traders are still worried about the strength of world's number-two economy, which is a key driver of global and regional growth.

On currency markets, the dollar eased to 107.15 yen from 107.65 yen in New York Friday, while the euro was at US$1.2683 against US$1.2627.

The single currency was also at 135.61 yen, from 135.97 yen.

The Japanese yen, which is considered a safe bet in times of turmoil, has rallied over the past as equities markets have tumbled.

Wall Street's three main indexes ended in the red on Friday. The Dow fell 0.69 per cent, the S&P 500 tumbled 1.15 per cent and the Nasdaq slumped 2.33 per cent.

In Hong Kong, police began removing some of the barricades that have clogged up parts of the city, catching some demonstrators unawares after their numbers had dwindled overnight.

However, the protestors remained at the site in Admiralty district and police said they were intent on clearing blockages to traffic rather than ending the demonstration.

While the Hang Seng initially tumbled in response to the stand-off, it recovered most of its losses as tensions have cooled, despite the city's partial shutdown.

Oil prices tumbled again on pessimism about demand for the black gold. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery fell US$1.10 to US$84.72 - its weakest for two years - while Brent North Sea crude for delivery slipped US$1.04 to a four-year low of US$89.17.

Gold was at US$1,233.37 an ounce against US$1,222.00 late Friday. - AFP