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Asia closes down on U.S. fall

Japanese automakers were weaker Thursday, with Honda down 3 percent.

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(CNN) -- Asian markets followed Wall Street to close in the red Thursday, with sharp falls for Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

In Tokyo the Nikkei 225 ended down 1.2 percent to 11,3297.04, extending the previous day's loss of 0.86 percent.

The broader Topix was down 0.71 percent to 1120.34. Earlier this week, it ended Tuesday's session at its highest level since May 24, 2002.

South Korea lost 0.7 percent and Australia ended virtually flat, down just 0.01 percent.

The downturn came after a third day of losses among U.S. stocks Wednesday, with both the Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq falling 1.5 percent.

New Zealand moved against the trend, putting on almost 1 percent after the central bank left rates on hold.

Taiwan also closed in the black, up just 0.06 percent.

In Tokyo late in the day, the dollar is trading lower at 110.69 yen.

Investors are still weighing the growth outlook for Japan, which is showing signs of the best economic performance in more than a decade.

On Wednesday, Japan's government said the economy grew by a real 1.6 percent in the October-December quarter, down from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent growth. (Full story)

Consumer electronics leader Sony ended down another 1.3 percent to 4430 yen. It also fell on Wednesday after U.S. photography company Kodak said it would sue over alleged patent infringements. (Full story)

Tech stocks were broadly lower, with Canon plunging 3.7 percent to 5250 yen. Fujitsu was down 1.75 percent and Toshiba was off about 1.3 percent. Kyocera, which lost 2.3 percent on Wednesday, fell another 1 percent to 8320 yen.

Automakers were also weaker, led by a fall of 3.6 percent to 4800 yen for Honda. Nissan was off 1.5 percent to 1200 yen and Toyota was down about a quarter-percent to 3870 yen.

Mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo plunged almost 3 percent to 232,000 yen.

But the banking sector showed some strength, with SMFG up 2 percent to 700,000 yen and UFJ 3.1 percent higher to 595,000 yen. Mizuho was up 0.75 percent.

Rail operator JR West fell 3 percent to 411,000 yen on a government sell-off.

South Korea lower

In Seoul, the Kospi closed down 0.7 percent to 869.93, as the political crisis around embattled president Roh Moo-hyun moved closer to a showdown. (Full story)

On Wednesday the index dropped 1.75 percent to 876.02 after the fall on Wall Street.

The central Bank of Korea left interest rates at record lows Thursday, putting growth ahead of worries about inflation.

Big exporter Hyundai Motor, which put on 2.2 percent Wednesday, dropped 1.2 percent to 50,100 won.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics eked out a gain of 0.4 percent to 533,000 won. Financial group Shinhan ended 0.24 percent ahead.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX200 ended flat, down just 0.01 percent to 3413.6.

Resources leader BHP Billiton was another 1.9 percent lower to A$12.028 and Qantas fell 1.4 percent to A$3.57. But Telstra rose almost 1.7 percent to A$4.82.

The day's big mover was retailer Coles Myer, up 3.5 percent after a record interim profit. (Full story)

In Taiwan, the Taiex rose 0.06 percent to 6879.11. On Wednesday it finished 1.42 percent lower to 6874.91.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index is down about 1.5 percent to 13,019.38 heading towards the close.

China Mobile is down almost 3 percent to HK$25.30. HSBC and Hutchison Whampoa are also lower.

Singapore's Straits Times index is just over 1.3 percent in the red at 1849.58. SingTel is down 1.7 percent at S$2.35.

In New Zealand, the Top 50 rose 0.92 percent to 2512.12 after the central bank left rates on hold, as expected. (Full story)

The moves in Asia come after further falls on Wall Street Wednesday, with the Nasdaq and the Dow both dropping about 1.5 percent. (Full storyexternal link)

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