The major Asian indices officially entered a bear market Tuesday, as a recent spread of speculative short positions led to panic selling, mainly due to hedge funds unloading heavily on margin calls.In Hong Kong, markets plunged. The Hang Seng experienced the biggest two-day decline since the 1997 Asian contagion, ending 2061 points, or 8.7% down, at 21,757. Some dealers said technical support levels were increasingly irrelevant now, but the index is expected to find support at 20,000 points after the index failed to bounce at 22,000. Volumes were up 32.6% from yesterday, at HK$155.76 billion, or $19.95 billion. After holding up strongly in recent weeks, China followed the island's lead, plunging 354 points, or 7.2%, to 4559. The Nikkei dropped 753 points, or 5.7%, to 12,573. The big Asian selloff began last Wednesday, when the Hang Seng lost 5.4% in one day, the most since Sept. 11, 2001, and it continued Monday, when it declined 5.5%. In the last five days, the Hang Seng has shed 17.8% of its value, and now lies 16% away from a 52-week low.
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