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Japan shares tumble over 4%

6:00 AM, Feb 4, 2014   |    comments
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(USATODAY.com) - Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average index plummeted over 4% on Tuesday as the global market rout intensified.

The sharp slide in Asia markets came as the U.S. stock market finished its worst day in more than seven months Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 2.1% and the Standard & Poor's 500 dived 2.3%. The Nasdaq composite closed 2.6% lower.

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The Nikkei 225 ended down 4.2% at 14,008.47 in Tokyo on Tuesday. European stocks all tracked Wall Street's sell-off lower. Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE 100 indexes fell the most - off nearly 1%.

Still, U.S. stock futures were shaking off the gloom in early-hours trading. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes all rose modestly ahead of Monday's opening bell.

But adding to pressure, an official Chinese manufacturing survey showed that factory output grew at a slower rate in January compared with December.

Some of the slowdown in manufacturing might be due to Lunar New Year holidays spanning the end of January and early February, reducing working days in both months. But analysts said there could also be an underlying slowdown at work.

"True, there are distortions related to the timing of Lunar New Year, and a pollution and corruption crackdown by Beijing, but the message is still that we are seeing slower growth," said Michael Every, head of financial markets research for Asia-Pacific at Rabobank, in a report.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 2.6% to 21,453.04 on its first day of trading following a 4-day weekend for Lunar New Year. Markets in China and Taiwan were closed.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for March delivery was up 11 cents at $96.54 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.06 to close at $96.43 on Monday.

Contributing: Associated Press

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