Asian Stocks Fall Despite Senate Rescue Plan Vote

A couple of men talk over share prices in front of a stock indicator in Tokyo Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index fell nearly 4 percent at the end of Monday's session amid concerns about possible slowdowns in the U.S. and Japanese economies. The Nikkei 225 index fell 541.25 points, or 3.97 percent, to 13,087.91 points on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO - Asian stock markets retreated Thursday as broader concerns about a global economic slowdown outweighed any relief over the U.S. Senate's passage of the bailout package to rescue the U.S. financial system.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average lost 1.1 percent at 11,242.65, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.9 percent to 17,850.13.

Benchmarks in Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan were also in negative territory.

In Washington Wednesday, the Senate approved a revised rescue bill with tax breaks and other sweeteners by a vote of 74-25. The House of Representatives votes on the plan Friday.

But even if the package is approved, investors are skeptical about the bailout's ultimate impact on a faltering global economy, analysts said.

"Investors are still concerned about the efficiency of this rescue plan and how it can help the global economy," said Aric Au, marketing manager for institutional sales at Phillip Securities in Hong Kong. "But at this moment, nobody is sure about this. They need to have more information about the finalized plan."

Japanese automakers took a big hit after the industry reported dismal September sales figures in the U.S. — their key export market.

U.S. auto sales dropped below 1 million last month for the first time in more than 15 years as some consumers struggled to get financing and others were frightened away from showrooms by bank failures and turmoil on Wall Street.

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp. fell 3.8 percent after posting a 32 percent drop in U.S. sales. Nissan Motor Co., who reported a 37 percent plunge in sales, shed 3.9 percent, while Honda Motor Co. slumped 4.5 percent after sales declined 24 percent.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average dipped 0.2 percent to 10,831.07. Europe's stock markets were mixed Wednesday, while Latin American shares edged higher.

Markets in China, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed Thursday due to national holidays.