Foreign Stocks Fall, Following U.S. Market's Lead

Nearly every stock market in Asia fell Wednesday. In Japan and South Korea, leading indicators slid 2 percent. Hong Kong was down almost 3 percent. Investors there were reacting in part to Tuesday's plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average. The 4 percent drop in the Dow was one of the worst stock market declines on any Inauguration Day.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with the slipping financial markets.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Nearly every stock market in Asia fell today. In Japan and South Korea, leading indicators ended the day two percent lower. Hong Kong was down almost three percent. Investors there were reacting, in part, to yesterday's plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average here in the U.S. The four percent drop in the Dow is one of the worst stock market falls on any presidential Inauguration Day. In other words, many of the people who went to that inauguration, who stood for hours in the cold, were worth less by the time they got home.

As people were celebrating the new president, investors were dumping bank stocks out of fear that the crisis in financial institutions in the United States and Great Britain might be getting worse.

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