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Asian stocks hit hard in early trading

August 8, 2011 |  6:18 pm

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Stocks in Tokyo were battered in early trading Tuesday, joining the rout in New York and other global markets.

An hour after opening, the Nikkei 225 stock average was down nearly 4%, in what appears to continued panicked selling after Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' credit rating Friday.

The dive brought the index close to its lowest level of the year, which was set March 15 after the country's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Other Asian markets also fared poorly in morning activity. South Korea's Kospi continued its free fall by plunging as much as 5%, triggering a brief halt to trading for the second day in a row.

South Korean Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan called for a global response at a policy meeting Tuesday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"No individual country can adequately respond to this financial market shock on its own," Bahk said. "Given our nature as a small and open economy, we need to strengthen policy collaboration with other countries."

Australia's S&P/ASX200 was down 5.4% in early trading.

-- David Pierson

Photo: Foreign currency dealers talk at the Korea Exchange Bank in Seoul on Monday. Credit: Truth Leem / Reuters

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