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The Recession Gathers More Force

V. Phani Kumar:

Nikkei Tumbles as Auto Bailout Talks Fail in Senate: Asian markets tumbled Friday, extending losses as investors sold off shares across sectors on word the $14 billion bailout deal to aid struggling U.S. auto makers fell apart in the Senate Thursday night. The Nikkei 225 Average slumped 5.6% to close at 8235.87. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 6% to 14675.41 and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index shed 7.7% to 7830.95 in late trading. China's Shanghai Composite gave up 1.7% to 1997.25. Official data released earlier in the day showed retail sales on the mainland rose 20.8% in November from the same month a year earlier, easing from a 22% increase in October. South Korea's Kospi lost 3.8% to 1110.66, snapping a five-session advance, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slid 2.4% to end at 3510.4 and New Zealand's NZX 50 index declined 1.8% to 2676.95. Singapore's Straits Times Index dropped 3% to 1740.09, while Taiwan's Taiex gave up 3.1% to 4510.89, in spite of a 0.75 percentage point cut in interest rates to 2% by the central bank Thursday.