Markets continue bleak run

Share markets in Asia have plunged following Wall Street's overnight loss of more than five per cent.

Japan's Nikkei dived nearly eight per cent on Thursday morning - hitting a five-year low - before paring some losses to close the early session 5.5 per cent down, reported Aljazeera.

The benchmark index lost nearly seven per cent on Wednesday.

The slump came as news emerged that Japan's trade surplus for September had plunged 94.1 per cent in September amid weakening exports and the soaring cost of importing energy and raw materials.

South Korea's Kospi index was down by more than eight per cent on Thursday and share prices in Hong Kong, China, Australia and Singapore were also sharply lower as investors continued to worry about a global recession.

The sell-off continues as European and Asian leaders gather for the Asia-Europe Meeting in China, to discuss measures to counter the global economic crisis.

And the White House announced on Wednesday that George Bush, the US president, was to host a meeting of world leaders to discuss the crisis on November 15.

The Dow Jones Industrial index closed down 513 points, or 5.7 per cent, at 8,519 on Wednesday after similar slumps in European and Latin American markets.

The Euro and the British pound also plunged to new lows, with the Euro closing at $1.28 and the pound at $1.63 amid growing fears of a recession in Europe.

Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that the world economic downturn is likely to cause a recession in the UK, the US and other countries.

Bush plans to invite members of the G20 group of nations to the summit, which includes the G7 major industrial economies plus key "emerging-market" countries such as China, India and Brazil.

Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said on Wednesday: "The leaders will review progress being made to address the current financial crisis, advance a common understanding of its causes and, in order to avoid a repetition, agree on a common set of principles for reform of the regulatory and institutional regimes for the world's financial sectors."

Perino also said that the administration would seek input from the winner of the US presidential election, which will take place on November 4.

"The summit will also provide an important opportunity for leaders to strengthen the underpinnings of capitalism by discussing how they can enhance their commitment to open, competitive economies, as well as trade and investment liberalisation," the White House said.

European leaders had pushed for a summit before the end of the year and suggested that an overhaul of the financial system should be considered.

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