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World markets remain on alert

Share indices have slumped across the world Keystone

Uncertainties about the global economy and about possible military retaliation for terrorist attacks in the United States caused share indices to slump across the world on Friday. However, Japan was an exception with prices rebounding by 4.1 per cent.

Buoyed by overnight firmness in Europe, Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei Stock Average rallied to close above the symbolically important 10,000 mark, its highest point since it plunged after Tuesday’s attacks.

European markets were hit hard, with insurance and technology shares falling sharply the way higher as investors looked to Monday’s reopening of Wall Street.

“I think there’s going to be a strong patriotic rally on Monday,” said a European equity strategist with a US-based bank. “It might last for 48 hours or so and then the background of the weak economy will show through,” he added.

However, in Switzerland the blue chip Swiss Market Index fell by 279.2 points or 4.7 per cent on Friday trading to 5628.3.

Zurich Financial Services led the gainers early on after the news that it was in advanced talks to sell its Scudder asset manager business to Deutsche Bank. However, it later fell back.

Shares tumble in Asia

Elsewhere in Asia, shares tumbled. Taiwan’s index plunged by 4.5 per cent as investors deserted transportation and electronics shares – industries expected to suffer in the aftermath of the attacks.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index, which lost almost 10 per cent on Thursday, declined by 6.51 per cent.

In Seoul, the Korean Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi), which had gained by five per cent on Thursday, reversed direction and dropped 3.4 per cent.

The key indices in Australia and New Zealand each dropped by nearly one per cent – Australia was hit by the collapse of Ansett Airlines, the country’s second largest carrier.

In currency dealings, the US dollar slipped amid thin activity as traders appeared to keep transactions at a minimum to avoid disrupting the currency market.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR