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Asia

Japan's Nikkei leads dive as Asian stock markets stumble

Asian shares have taken a tumble, with Japan's Nikkei down over 4 percent. However, European traders have held their nerve after Asia's slide, logging only slight losses on the day.

Markets slump on recovery worries

The Nikkei sank 4.18 percent on Tuesday to 14,008.47, leaving it down 14 percent since the start of 2014. Seoul's main index fell 1.73 percent, closing at 1,886.85, while Sydney's lost 1.75 percent.

Hong Kong shares, which reopened on Tuesday after the Lunar New Year holiday, sank 2.15 percent in the afternoon. Mainland Chinese markets are still shut for the holiday and will reopen on Friday.

Yet these difficulties on the markets in Asia, following poor US performances on Monday, did not really carry over into Europe.

By late afternoon on Tuesday in Europe, most major markets had slipped into the red, with the exception of France's CAC 40. Frankfurt's DAX was down around half a percentage point for the day, continuing a rather substantive slide since logging a string of all-time highs in January. London's FTSE similarly made mild losses on Tuesday, but was containing the damage comfortably within a quarter of a percentage point near the end of trading.

PMI blights Monday

Stocks in the United States had taken a hammering on Monday, after data from the Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers index (PMI) of manufacturing activity fell to 51.3 in January from 56.5 in December. The Dow closed down 2.08 percent while the S&P 500 fell 2.28 percent and the Nasdaq 2.61 percent.

Those results have raised concerns that the US economy was not as strong as initially thought. It comes as emerging markets suffer from the incremental withdrawal by the Federal Reserve of massive stimulus as the United States recovers from the 2008 financial crisis.

At the weekend, China released figures showing its PMI has fallen to 50.5 in January from 51 in December and HSBC announced that its index had fallen to a six-month low of 49.5.

Japan's Nikkei surged last year amid the economic reforms implemented by new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, peaking in December, and has been steadily sliding since.

msh, se/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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