Stock Markets Plunge amid Recession Fear; Market Collapse: A Lehman Brothers Minibond Investor Falls to the Ground during a Confrontation with Police outside the Bank of China in Hong Kong

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Byline: MARTIN BENTHAM

STOCK markets around the world plunged again today amid growing fears that the financial crisis will turn into a deep global recession.

Shares in Japan, where the Nikkei index fell by more than nine per cent, were among the worst hit, while there were also steep declines in Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia and South Korea.

This followed another sharp drop in Wall Street where shares closed five per cent down to take the overall fall in the US stock market to 13 per cent over the last five sessions.

Although some of the declines were triggered by concern about the continuing impact of the credit crunch, the main cause appeared to be wider fears about the prospects for the worldwide economy prompted by a raft of negative economic data.

In Japan, where the Nikkei index fell by 989 points or 9.4 per cent to 9,167, the loss of confidence was fuelled by figures showing a 34.5 per cent rise in corporate bankruptcies during the past year and concern about slowing demand for new cars and hi-tech products.

Analysts predicted that prospects there remained bleak and that there appeared to be no reason for investors to want to buy shares. "Selling seems almost unstoppable," said Kazuki Miyazawa of Daiwa Securities

SMBC. …