HONG KONG -- At the end of a mixed and volatile week, Asian markets mostly sank on reports that Merrill Lynch ( MER) may write down as much as $15 billion.However, in a further demonstration of decoupling, China held up against selling pressure, as the Shanghai Composite Index gained 28 points, or 0.5%, to 5484. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng succumbed to global selling after starting strong, falling 364 points, or 1.3%, to 26,867. In Japan, the Nikkei plunged 277 points, or 1.9%, to 14,110. "If there is a correction right now, it's a short-term phenomenon in a longer-term bull market, but corrections can be nasty," says Emil Wolter, who runs $150 million for Polar Capital in Singapore. "We could see falling share prices for six to nine months, to shake out the exuberance and overconfidence in the market." Leading the day's decliners in Hong Kong were HSBC Holdings ( HBC), which fell 2.1% to a two-year low of HK$123.60, and property developer Cheung Kong ( CHEUY), down 3% to HK$136.80. HSBC Holdings was the day's most actively traded stock, and fell as a result of the gloomy Merrill news, while Cheung Kong continued to slide as investors mulled a discounted share sale Thursday. On dealing floors, however, it was rumored that the HK$4.7 billion ($602 million) placement sold within 25 minutes. Other financials and property stocks responded to the bearish sentiment, as Sun Hung Kai Properties ( SUHJY) fell 0.2% to HK$166.40, conglomerate Hutchison ( HUWHY) lost 1.3% to HK$86.45, and insurers China Life Insurance ( LFC) and Ping An ( PNGAY) declined 2.2% to HK$38.25 and 1.6% to HK$77.60, respectively.