Asian Stocks Close Sharply Lower Monday

Asian stocks fell sharply on worries over the spread of a global economic crisis as European governments scrambled to shore up for ailing financial institutions.
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Asian stocks closed sharply lower Monday, stocks in Europe were posting major declines, and futures in the U.S. look set to open down as worries increase over the spread of a global economic crisis.

The Nikkei 225 stock average in Japan closed down 4.25% to 10,473.09, a four-and-a-half year low. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong closed almost 5% lower, the S&P/ASX index in Australia fell 3.3%, and the Shanghai Composite in China finished 5.2% to the downside.

European governments scrambled to work out rescues for ailing financial institutions.

Germany said Sunday it would guarantee all private German bank accounts as it arranged a bailout of troubled lender

Hypo Real Estate

. German officials said they took the step to avert a potential panic on Monday after an earlier government-backed rescue plan for Hypo fell apart.

Belgium and Luxembourg governments on Sunday arranged a deal under which France's

BNP Paribas

will take over the Belgian and Luxembourg operations of

Fortis NV

for about 15 billion euros in cash and stock. A rescue plan last week for Fortis failed to prevent clients from withdrawing money from the bank. On Friday, the Netherlands took over Fortis' Dutch operations.

Meanwhile, officials in the U.K. said they're ready to step in and do what is necessary to help their banks.

The FTSE 100 index in London was down 4.5% to 4754.89, while the DAX in Frankfurt fell 4.4%.

Stock futures in the U.S. were indicating a lower open Monday. Futures on the

S&P 500

fell 25.70 points to 1082.60, and were 21.41 points below fair value.

Nasdaq

futures were down 38.50 points to 1439, and were 43.70 points below fair value.

Stocks on Wall Street closed lower Friday despite a vote by the House of Representatives to approve the

Treasury Department's

$700 billion bailout package for the financial sector. President Bush later signed the rescue package into law.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

ended down 157.15 points, or 1.5%, at 10,325.70, and the S&P 500 gave back 15.04 points, or 1.4%, at 1099.24. The Nasdaq lost 29.33 points, or 1.5%, to 1947.37.