No end in sight to market turmoil

TOKYO (AP) - A meltdown in confidence strangled Asian stock markets today on accelerating fears that the widening financial crisis could spawn a global recession.

After a miserable day on Wall Street when the Dow Jones industrials lost more than 500 points, investors from Tokyo to Mumbai, Seoul to Sydney dumped shares in a broad regional sell-off.

Panic sent Japanese shares into a freefall, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average plunging 9.38% to 9,203.32. It was index's lowest close since June 2003 and its biggest 1-day drop in more than 20 years.

Analysts say no one knows yet where the bottom is.

Accelerating the pessimism were doubts that finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 7 nations would unveil any effective measures at their meeting in Washington Friday.

Authorities in Indonesia halted trading. The main Russian exchange was ordered closed until Friday.

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