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Asian markets remain wary

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October 3, 2008

US Financial Meltdown:
House urged to follow Senate’s lead
Asian markets remain wary

US President George Bush on Thursday urged the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and approve a massive economic rescue package, warning "people's jobs are in jeopardy," reported AFP.

The House, which rejected an earlier version of the proposal on Monday, was expected to take up what Bush called the "improved" bill on Friday with roughly a month to go before the November 4 US elections.

US senators voted 74-25 on Wednesday to back an amended bailout, aiming to ease the credit crunch that has shaken the world economy, bankrupted Wall Street titans such as Lehman Brothers and hit banks around the world.

The Senate sweetened the original deal, which gives the US Treasury the power to buy up toxic mortgage debt choking the financial industry, to court conservative Republicans who helped block the original version.

Senators raised the ceiling on federal insurance for bank deposits from 100,000 dollars to 250,000 dollars, and added up to 100 billion dollars in tax break extensions.

"A lot of people are watching the House of Representatives now to determine whether or not they will be able to act positively on a bill that has been improved," said Bush.

On Wednesday, most Asian markets bounced back on hopes that the US bailout would win legislative approval, although doubts persisted about the long-term outlook for the global economy, the Associated Press reported.

Reaction from markets in Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines was muted because several of them were closed for holidays.

Trading in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines were all closed to observe the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the Ramadan fasting month. In Singapore, markets were closed for a holiday called Hari Raya Puasa.

Investors are still concerned about declining U.S. housing prices and the overall US economy - a vital export market for Asia - especially as they look ahead to the Christmas shopping season.

Regional markets are expected to remain edgy on reports of declining factory orders and a reported 7-year high in US jobless claims, which seem to point that the financial rescue plan being worked by the US authorities might not suffice to keep the country's recession at bay.

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