Asian shares rose early Tuesday in line with Wall Street's gains, but Tokyo prices soon fell again and rallies elsewhere were subdued by worries that any recovery from the global sell-off could prove fragile, according to the Associated Press.
"We're not out of the woods entirely,” said Russell Jones, chief Asia economist for the investment bank Lehman Brothers in Tokyo.
The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average was off by 128.88 points, or 0.7 percent, at 18.879.76 points around midday, giving up gains of as much as 1.7 percent from early morning dealings. The Nikkei had lost 7 percent of its value on Monday.
The panicky mood that swept Asia a day earlier had eased after prices rose later Monday in New York. But traders were more cautious than optimistic after seeing shares take such huge hits in recent days.
Japanese Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa sought to calm investors, saying today that his nation's economic recovery appears healthy enough that the sharp plunge on the stock market should have no impact.
"Since the strength of Japan's recovery is quite strong, I'm not that worried,” Miyazawa told reporters. But Miyazawa added he would be closely watching U.S. shares.
In Hong Kong, where the blue chips had fallen 8.6 percent on Monday, they came back today with a gain of 3.6 percent by midday. The Hang Seng Index was up 530.16 points at 15,292.53.
Hong Kong investors gathered around stock-quotation terminals in local bank offices, anxiously watching the numbers flash.
John Ho, a 50-year-old banker, said his losses came to $3,850 on Monday - but only on paper because he wasn't bailing out of the market.
Property analyst Stephen Cheung, 27, was worried about the plunging value of high-tech companies he had bought into.
"I'm not happy, because I invested a lot in the tech stocks and the surge in the stock market is not in my stocks,” Cheung said.
Some of the hardest-hit shares have been Internet companies that recently soared to astounding heights, only to come crashing down recently.
And Jones, the economist in Tokyo, warned that the prospect of higher interest rates could put a further damper on any renewed stock rallies.
In Seoul, the Korea Composite Stock Price Index started today with a gain of more than 8 percent but soon drifted lower, eventually showing a gain of just 3.5 percent.
The U.S. Nasdaq composite index, a major barometer of the so-called "new economy” high-tech companies, gained 217.87 points to 3,589.16 in Monday's dealings, after a plunge of 355.49 points on Friday.
In other Asia-Pacific markets Tuesday, Australian shares were up 2.6 percent, Singaporean shares rose 2 percent and Taiwanese shares closed with a gain of 3.5 percent.
DOLLAR EDGES DOWN AGAINST YEN IN TOKYO TRADE
In Tokyo Tuesday, the dollar edged down against the yen with investors worried about a fresh plunge in New York share prices, dealers said.
The dollar was trading at 104.35-38 yen at 5:00 p.m. (0800 GMT) after rising to 105.15 yen at one point. It changed hands at 104.51-54 yen early Tuesday and 104.49 yen in New York late Monday.
The euro traded at 0.9459-62 dollars around 5:00 p.m., down from 0.9480-83 dollars in early trade here and down from 0.9528 in New York late Monday.
Against the yen, the euro was quoted at 98.90, down from 99.12 early Tuesday and 99.58 in New York late Monday – (Agencies).
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