SINGAPORE, May 21 (UPI) -- Most Asian stock markets ended lower Wednesday, as investors worried about the weakening dollar and the impact on the region's exporters.
Remarks by billionaire George Soros that forecast a further decline in the dollar weighed on sentiment.
The Nikkei Average closed down 0.51 percent at 8,018.51. After posting heavy losses over the last two days because of the government's weekend bailout of Resona, banking shares rebounded. Resona jumped nearly 20 percent, while Mizuho rose 7.48 percent.
But exporters were generally down with Nissan losing 2.8 percent and rival Toyota Motor Corp down 1.11 percent.
Taiwan's TAIEX lost 0.82 percent at 4,216.64, down for the fifth consecutive session. Investors are increasingly concerned about the government's inability to curb the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus. Taiwan has reported 418 SARS cases, the third highest total after China and Hong Kong.
In Seoul, the KOSPI ended down 0.25 percent at 600.57 points, with blue chips leading the way. Samsung Electronics lost 0.82 percent, while POSCO fell 2.31 percent.
In Singapore, investors worried about the near-term poor economic prospects, with the government suggesting firms should lowered salaries to ride the SARS downturn. Singapore's Straits Times fell 0.65 percent to 1,290.73, with Singapore Airlines losing 1.6 percent ahead of its full-year results after the close.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index managed to consolidate around the 9,000 level, rising 0.1 percent to 9,059.8. Banking giant HSBC added 0.56 percent, while fashion retailer Esprit with sizeable operations in Europe rose 1.01 percent benefiting from the strength of the euro against the dollar.
In Manila, the main index lost 0.66 percent closing at 1,046.16. Investors largely ignored news the WHO was removing the country from its SARS list.
In Malaysia, investors were taken by surprise by an interest rate cut, part of a package of measures to stimulate the economy. The benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index rose 0.54 percent to 640.37.