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Stocks slide on Istanbul bombs
( 2003-11-21 10:50) (Reuters)

Asia joined a global slide in shares on Friday after deadly bombings in Turkey heightened global security worries, but the dollar steadied after heavy losses immediately following the attacks.

Gold ticked up after investors on Thursday fled to relatively safer holdings following two blasts that killed at least 27 people in Istanbul.

U.S. and European shares dropped in reaction to the apparent suicide bombings, which followed similar attacks on two Istanbul synagogues on Saturday.

Asian stock markets, most of which had closed before the bombing, were lower almost across the board as Tokyo abandoned an early rally sparked by optimism over steel firms' earnings.

The Nikkei average ended morning trade down 0.8 per cent at 9,785.87. Semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron Corp fell 3.1 per cent.

MSCI's broadest index of shares elsewhere in the Asia Pacific fell 0.6 per cent to a six-week low. Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing sank 2.7 per cent.

"The bombing in Turkey has shaken a bit of confidence, more so in the U.S. than here," said Lucinda Chan, private client advisor at Macquarie Equities in Australia, where the benchmark index dropped 0.4 per cent.

Hong Kong opened 1.1 per cent lower, Taiwan fell 1.3 per cent and Singapore dropped 0.7 per cent, but South Korea gained half a per cent as banks took steps to resolve a liquidity crisis at credit card companies.


The dollar edged higher in Asia to stand some way above a record low against the euro and a three-year trough versus the yen hit this week, but sentiment remained weak.

Fears of more violence against the United States and its allies are expected to slow capital inflows into the United States.

"Investors are unlikely to take risk when markets are governed by non-economic factors," said Kosuke Hanao, head of foreign exchange sales at Royal Bank of Scotland.

But many traders in Japan are taking a wait-and-see attitude ahead of a holiday there on Monday.

The dollar was quoted at 109.30 yen, up from around 109.0 yen in late U.S. trade. The euro stood at $1.1888, down from around $1.1910 in late U.S. trade.

The British pound was at $1.7022, more than a half cent off a five-year high of $1.7090 hit on Thursday. The Australian dollar was also off Thursday's six-year high of $0.7267, quoted at $0.7215.

Gold was higher after a rally following the bombings fizzled out short of the $400 mark, which was briefly touched this week for the first time since 1996. Spot gold was quoted at $394.25 an ounce, up from $393.30 at the U.S. close.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.9 per cent.

The market was also pressured by a U.S. manufacturing survey that failed to impress investors braced for a huge number.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its index of regional manufacturing activity fell to 25.9 in November from 28.0 in October. While the figure exceeded the consensus forecast, investors were anticipating a much higher figure after a robust Empire State Manufacturing Survey Index earlier in the week.

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