Recession fears poke equity bears in Asia, most markets down

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 25): Asian equity markets opened sharply lower with Nikkei 225 taking a nosedive, down 3.06%, and Hang Seng Index sliding 2.1% this morning, as economic concerns make a comeback to haunt the markets after a recent rebound.

At home, Bursa Malaysia's FBM KL Composite Index also heads south, falling 14.26 points or 0.86% to 1,652.40.

At this hour, 481 losers outnumbered 108 gainers, while 224 counters are unchanged.

The major losers among the KLCI component stocks are Maxis Bhd, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd and Axiata Group Bhd.

Sapura Energy Bhd tops the most active list this morning. The stock fell 0.5 sen to 34 sen with 38.44 million shares changing hands in the first trading hour.

The bearish sentiment was spilled over from the 1.77% fall on Dow Jones Industrial Average last Friday (March 22) as investors started getting worried about the economic outlook moving forward as there are signs of manufacturing slowdown in the US and Europe.

The preliminary overall US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index slowed to a 21-month low while Europe's outlook was thrown into fresh doubt after reports showed weakness across France and Germany, Bloomberg reported.

In addition, the latest economic data showed that activity in Japan's manufacturing also contracted for two months in a row.