Tuesday, January 21, 2003

War fears prompt overseas slide

Stocks down; U.S. markets closed for holiday

By Hope Yen
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Stocks slid overseas Monday as war fears and downbeat corporate outlooks for companies such as Royal Dutch/Shell fueled investor concerns about a stumbling economy in the months ahead.

Analysts said tech stocks in particular took a hit after Wall Street's sharp decline Friday, when the Dow Jones industrials dropped 111 points on cautious outlooks from Microsoft and IBM.

U.S. markets were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

In Japan, the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average fell 131.43 points, or 1.5 percent, to close at 8,558.82. That came after the Nikkei rose 81.08 points, or 0.94 percent, on Friday.

Analysts said Asian traders took their cue from Wall Street's pessimism, driving down technology heavyweights such as Hitachi, NEC and Fujitsu. Shares of Sony and Japan's largest mobile telephone company, NTT DoCoMo, also declined.

The broader Tokyo Stock Price Index of all issues on the exchange's first section fell 5.35 points, or 0.62 percent, closing at 853.90. The TOPIX closed up 2.95 points, or 0.34 percent Friday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 62.57 points, or 0.7 percent, finishing at 9,552.02. On Friday, the index had slumped 128.64 points, or 1.32 percent.

Singapore shares closed lower after heavy selling in technology stocks. The Straits Times Index fell 3.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,363.19.

In Europe, stocks fell after J.P. Morgan lowered its earnings estimate for oil company Royal Dutch/Shell. A weak outlook from Infineon, Europe's second-biggest chip maker, also pressured shares.

Analysts said investors were avoiding major commitments to stocks, particularly with an upcoming Jan. 27 deadline involving Iraq. U.N. officials are to report about the status of arms inspections, and their assessment will likely play a major role in determining whether tensions are resolved peacefully.

"Markets will need plenty of good earnings news this week if equities are to hold current levels," Nomura Securities analyst Anais Faraj said in a note published Monday.

Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 42 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,778.60.

In France, the CAC 40 Index in Paris closed down 36.86 points, or 1.2 percent, at 3,020.07.

Germany's Xetra DAX was down 25.27 points, or 0.9 percent, at 2,893.55.

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