Asian Stocks Decline

Asian stocks fell, driving the region's benchmark index to its biggest weekly drop in 13 months, as borrowing costs rose and concern grew that a U.S. $700 billion bank rescue plan won't prevent a recession.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's second-largest automaker, plunged 5.3 percent after U.S. factory orders dropped and jobless claims surged. BHP Billiton Ltd. fell 4 percent as commodity prices headed for their biggest weekly decline in 50 years. Keppel Corp., the world's largest builder of shallow-water oil rigs, lost 8.4 percent on concern it will face difficulty financing debt as three-month lending rates climbed to their highest since at least January.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 2.1 percent to 104.95 as of 7:34 p.m. in Tokyo to its lowest level since August 2005. Nine of the 10 industry groups retreated.

The measure lost 7.7 percent this week, its biggest weekly decline since the five days to Aug. 17 2007, when credit markets first seized up as the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis prompted banks to rein in lending. The index has slumped 33 percent this year as the credit crunch brought down banks including Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

All benchmark indexes open for trading in the region dropped today apart from Taiwan. Markets in China, South Korea, Indonesia and Pakistan are shut for holidays.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.9 percent to 10,938.14. The measure lost 8 percent this week, the most since August 2007, while the Hang Seng Index dropped 5.4 percent, capping a five-week, 17 percent decline.

Futures on the S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent. The S&P 500 lost 4 percent yesterday. Caterpillar Inc. slumped 8.3 percent as lending rates soared and General Electric Co. plunged 9.6 percent after selling shares at a discount.

U.K. stocks advanced, led by banks, after Wells Fargo & Co. of the U.S. agreed to buy rival Wachovia Corp. HBOS Plc and Barclays Plc led gains in London. The FTSE 100 Index added 27.54, or 0.6 percent, to 4,897.88 at 12:20 p.m. in London, heading for a 3.8 percent loss this week., Bloomberg
10/3/2008 6:18:43 AM