Sydney, Feb 3, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Most Asian markets were hammered Monday over the concerns that the global recession is deepening. Hong Kong shares plunged sharply, even as mainland-Chinese shares gained after the Chinese New Year holidays. In Tokyo, some of Japan's biggest industrial companies fell to multiyear lows. China's Shanghai Composite contrasted other major indexes with 1 per cent surge as agricultural sector was strengthened after the Chinese government announced measures to prevent grain production from falling.

Asia Economy Watch

The latest Korean government data showed an increasing number of private, self-employed businesses are collapsing as fears over worsening domestic economic conditions are heightening amid the worst economic crisis in decades. The country's exports in January tumbled by a record 32.8 percent from a year ago, a government report also showed yesterday. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday slashed its 2009 economic outlook for South Korea to a 4% contraction, from 2.0% growth previously projected, citing sharp falls in exports and domestic demand.

China's Ministry of Commerce said retail sales growth slowed during the Lunar New Year. Figures showed retail sales in the Lunar New Year grew 13.8 per cent year on year to 290 billion yuan, compared with 15 to 16 per cent historically. The new statistics by the government indicates that more than one in seven rural migrant workers had been laid off or were unable to find work, twice as many as estimated just five weeks ago.

Company News

DLF (BOM:532868), India's biggest developer, plans to cut prices of homes by 20% to help lift demand in a slowing economy. DLF expects to introduce the price cuts in new projects over the next three months.

Bank of China (SHA:601988)(HKG:3988) said yesterday that its retail loans increased more than 63 billion yuan last year. The growth in retail loans was a significant slowdown from the increase of about 114.85 billion yuan the previous year, reflecting cooling property, car and consumer markets.

ICBC (SHA:601398)(HKG:1398), China's largest lender, said yesterday that assets of its overseas operations grew about 15 per cent last year, while its international settlement business exceeded US$750 billion for the first time.

It is reportedly SoftBank Mobile Corp., an affiliate of Softbank Group (TYO:9984)(OTC:SFTBF), and Emobile Ltd. have entered the final stages of talks over a tie-up in wireless data communications services.

South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (SEO:042660) reported a sharp increase in fourth-quarter net profit, benefiting from higher vessel prices and the lower cost of steel plate.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (TYO:7211) is likely to post a group net loss of around 20 billion yen for the year ending March 31, compared with fiscal 2007's 34.7 billion yen net profit.


Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344

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