Asian Markets Bounce Back from Slide

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The Fed's rate cut, aimed at helping stabilize the American economy, appears to have appeased Asian markets. Most rebounded strongly Wednesday.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with some recovery in Asian stock markets.

The sudden rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve did the trick, at least for now, at least in Asia. After yesterday's three quarter of a percent cut in the key federal funds rate, investors in Asian stock markets regained some confidence and some money yesterday after the big sell-offs earlier in the week. But the recovery is tentative. Investors in Asia are still nervous about the U.S. economy, and they're waiting to see what Wall Street and the Fed do next.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing.

ANTHONY KUHN: Japan's main stock index ended the day 2 percent higher after posting its biggest single loss yesterday since 9/11. South Korea's main stock index managed to eke out a gain of just over 1 percent while Australian stocks posted gains of about 4.5 percent. The biggest recovery was in Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng index ended trading on Wednesday more than 10 percent higher - the best one-day performance in nearly a decade. Shares in mainland China companies did especially well. Investors in Chinese companies were actually relieved by this week's declines, saying it let some air out of the country's stock market bubble.

Andy Xie is an independent economist based in Shanghai.

Mr. ANDY XIE (Economist): (Speaking foreign language)

KUHN: Hong Kong's stocks are now approaching a fair price, he says. After posting big losses, U.S. banks had to reign in their credit and this cost overvalued stocks here to fall back to Earth.

Despite the rebound in stock prices, many in the region are still nervous and they're seeking safer investments like government bonds. They're keeping a close eye on the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is scheduled to meet again in a week. The hope here is for more interest rate cuts.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.

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