Asian Stocks Drop

Asian stocks slumped, sending the region's benchmark index to the lowest level in four years, after commodity prices tumbled on concern a global economic slowdown is reducing demand for raw materials.

Posco retreated 7.8 percent after global steel production dropped last month. BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group plunged more than 8 percent after European regulators said a takeover of Rio by BHP may break antitrust rules, people close to the case said. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. lost 4.8 percent after profit fell by a third.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 3.2 percent to 85 as of 9:28 a.m. in Tokyo, set for the lowest level since May 2004. The gauge has plunged 46 percent this year.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 5.2 percent to 8,227.75, poised for its weakest close since May 2003. Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 130.80 points, or 3.2 percent, to 4,025.30 as of 11:17 a.m. in Sydney, extending yesterday's 3.4 percent loss.

U.S. stocks sank and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped to the lowest level since April 2003 on concern a worsening global economic slump will damp corporate profits.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 58.13 points, or 6.1 percent, to 896.92. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 514.45, or 5.7 percent, to 8,519.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 80.93, or 4.8 percent, 1,615.75. About 20 stocks dropped for each that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Canadian stocks fell a second day, led by energy producers including EnCana Corp., after oil prices slid to a 16-month low on signs that a global economic slowdown is crimping fuel consumption. The Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index fell 4.95 percent to 9,311.08. Canada's main stock benchmark has slid 19 percent this month, extending a 15 percent drop in September.

Brazilian stocks fell the most in a week on concern the global economic slump will reduce demand for commodities and Argentina's planned seizure of pension funds may lead to increased selling of emerging-market assets. The Bovespa index fell 9.6 percent to 35,296.

European equities fell sharply on Wednesday, as the spectre of global recession dragged energy and industrial stocks lower.

U.K. stocks dropped for a second day after the Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said the country faces a recession and oil and metals prices fell. The FTSE 100 Index slipped 188.84, or 4.46 percent.

German stocks declined for a second day as investor concern deepened that a global economic slowdown may curb corporate earnings. The benchmark DAX Index declined 213.34 or 4.46 percent.,
10/22/2008 7:09:54 PM