Asian markets lower after U.S.-led attacks

Asian markets closed slightly lower on Monday in the wake of U.S.-led missile and bombing raids against Afghanistan, which killed at least 20 people, according to a Reuters report.

Market losses around the region on Monday were less severe than those on Sept. 12, when regional bourses fell sharply in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and near Washington, D.C.

"It (the reaction of Asian markets to the strikes) was a little bit better than we expected," said one Taipei-based broker who requested anonymity.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index showed the biggest loss on Monday, falling 309.55, or 3 percent, to close at 9,967.83. Singapore's Straits Times Index also posted a relatively large drop, falling 36.44 points, or 2.6 percent, to close at 1,349.01.

Markets in Hong Kong and Singapore experienced a greater drop than other regional markets, such as Taiwan, because they had seen more of a rebound after the losses that followed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the broker said. In Taiwan -- where the Weighted Price Index closed down 65.11 points, or 1.8 percent, at 3,520.35 -- there had been less of a rebound since the terrorist attacks and the negative effects of Sunday's strikes had already been factored into share prices, he said.

"Basically, the people that want out are already out (of the market)," the broker said.

The Australian All Ordinaries closed down 38.4 points, or 1.2 percent, at 3,076.8. South Korea's Kospi index was also off 1.2 percent, dropping 5.79 points to close at 496.13. In Shanghai, the B-Share index was down 1 point, or 0.7 percent, to close at 150.54, and New Zealand's NZSE40 was off 7.41 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,889.07. Markets in Tokyo were closed for a public holiday.

Regional technology heavyweights also saw their share prices fall. Shares in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., the world's largest contract chip maker, closed at NT$46 (US$1.40), down 1.7 percent. Telstra Corp. Ltd. also saw its shares drop 1.7 percent, to A$5.11 (US$2.60).

Shares in chip maker Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. closed down 1 percent, at 146,000 won (US$111.20), while Hynix Semiconductor Inc. fell 1.37 percent to close at 1,180 won, despite news of a financial rescue package which had driven Hynix shares up 5.8 percent in early trading.

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