Asia bears brunt of fallout after US rates rise

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The Independent Online
ASIAN stock markets were the biggest losers as investors took fright at the impact of higher US interest rates.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 6.1 per cent, the Thai stock market was down 6.9 per cent, and Malaysian shares shed 4.65 per cent. South Korea was off 2.9 per cent, the Philippines 2.5 per cent and Singapore nearly 2 per cent.

The remarkable rises in many of the world's smaller and less developed markets over recent months was driven by US money seeking better returns than are available on deposits and bonds. Some analysts fear higher US interest rates will put an end to this wave of money.

However, several emerging markets were unscathed by the initial reaction from Wall Street. Mexico, a star performer in recent years, moved up nearly 0.5 per cent, Brazil rose 2.8 per cent and India jumped 5.7 per cent.

Fund managers specialising in emerging markets reacted calmly, maintaining there would be no lasting damage to interest from institutional investors.

Radhika Ajmera, a director of Abtrust Fund Managers, said some markets, such as Argentina's, which fell about 5 per cent yesterday, had been in need of a correction. But Ms Ajmera does not expect investors to abandon emerging markets: 'The institutional money that wants to be in these markets wants to be there for the long term.' Markets such as Turkey had few economic links with the US and the fundamentals remained unchanged.