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Asian stocks down after Bernanke, Obama speeches
Asian stock markets open mostly lower as Fed Chief Bernanke's remarks hurt sentiment
By The Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stock markets opened without enthusiasm Friday after Wall Street reacted negatively to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's failure to offer specific measures to support the ailing U.S. economy.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell less than 0.1 percent to 8,785.32 after the government reported that the country's economy contracted in the April-June quarter at an annual rate of 2.1 percent, worse than the initial estimate of 1.3 percent.

But the result was not unexpected, given the scope of the damage done by the March earthquake and tsunami that destroyed many of northeastern Japan's factories and businesses. Economists expect the world's No. 3 economy to pick up in the months ahead.

South Korea's Kospi was 0.8 percent lower at 1,832.78. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was 0.7 percent higher at 4,215.40.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower Thursday after Bernanke, in a speech closely watched by investors, said the Fed will consider a range of steps at its Sept. 20-21 meeting.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1 percent to 11,295.81. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.1 percent to 1,185.90. The Nasdaq composite shed 0.8 percent to 2,529.14. Each index had posted gains earlier in the day.

Also Thursday, President Barack Obama, looking to jolt the U.S. economy, proposed a $447 billion plan for creating jobs in a nationally televised speech before Congress late Thursday. Obama will likely have a hard time getting much of his plan through Congress since Republicans control the House of Representatives.

Concerns about the U.S. economy have pushed stocks lower each month since April. Many traders now say the stock market is pricing in the assumption that the economy is in a recession, meaning limited job growth and weaker corporate profits.

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