Asia Stocks Fall in Worst Rout for 21 Years

Asian stocks dropped, extending the worst global sell-off in 21 years, after the rejection of a $700 billion plan to rescue the financial system by U.S. lawmakers exacerbated concern more banks will fail.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Woori Finance Holdings Co. slumped more than 7 percent after Wachovia Corp. was sold to Citigroup Inc. as its shares collapsed under the weight of overdue mortgages. BHP Billiton Ltd. and SK Energy Co. declined after oil fell the most in almost seven years on speculation the global economy will slide into recession, and after U.S. stocks yesterday tumbled the most since the 1987 crash.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index retreated 0.8 percent to 110.42 as of 9:06 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 3 percent to 11,395.88. Benchmark indexes in Australia and South Korea declined more than 3 percent.

The regional gauge has fallen 30 percent this year as credit turmoil has caused the world's financial institutions to report more than $590 billion in losses and writedowns.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell as much as 8.4 percent, the most since Oct. 26, 1987, as 490 companies declined. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6.7% per cent to 10,372 and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 9.1% per cent  to 1,983.

Canada's S&P/TSX Composite Index has fallen 16 percent in 2008, giving it the best performance among the 23 nations MSCI considers developed markets.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index has lost 15 percent in September, the steepest monthly drop since the October 1987 stock-market crash. India's Sensitive index tumbled 3.8 percent, Russia's Micex Index fell 5.5 percent and Brazil's Bovespa slumped 7.1 percent.Trading on Brazil's Bovespa was halted after the main stock index plummeted 10 percent.,
9/29/2008 5:32:51 PM