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Asian Markets Follow Dow Aloft

Asian investors could sum up their feelings about the high-flying Dow Jones with one word: thanks.

CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports the news from New York rippled across Asia Tuesday. Japan's market crossed the psychological hurdle of 15,000 for the first time since late August, up more than 2 percent. Hong Kong was up more than 3 percent; Singapore up more than 2 percent.

But that didn't leave everyone optimistic.

Some analysts said that even though stock markets in the United States and Asia were enjoying rebounds, volatility and profit-taking remain significant risks.

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Lackluster performance in Europe's markes appeared to bear that out.

In London, shares fell in thin trading. At mid-morning, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index of blue-chip stocks was trading at 5,797.9 points, down 50.5 points, or 0.9 percent.

German financial shares rose as the Deutsche Bank AG said it was discussing the final details of a $9 billion deal to take over Bankers Trust Corp., and Internet shares led the technology group higher as America Online Inc. said it might buy Netscape Communications Corp. in a $4 billion deal.

That deal also helped boost French shares and, at midday, the CAC Index of 40 leading stocks was up 18 points, at 3,863.81.

Japan, of course, is key because its stock market dwarfs all the rest in Asia combined. In Tokyo, people talked of a return to confidence, but it will take more than a few good days to turn around a bad mood brought on by eight years of recession.

The rally started in New York, where the Dow Jones industrial average surged to a new high on Monday, capping a nearly 2,000-point rebound from last summer's plunge.

Extending a nearly non-stop rally that began less than two months ago, the average rose 214.72 points to 9,374.27, topping the July 17 record of 9,337.97.

The return to record terrain followed four months of volatility that took the Dow as low as 7,400 on Sept. 1, and to 7,467 on Oct. 8, the day the market's recovery began.

The rally came as a series of billion-dollar takeovers and negotiations for two blockbuster deals signaled a return to the merger frenzy that energized the market last spring and early summer.

Before the comeback started, it had seemed that Asia's financial turmoil and its spread around the world would send Wall Street to its first losing year since 1990. Now, several major indexes are poised to extend an unprecedented streak of three straight years with gains of 20 percent or more.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei soared 384.70 points, or 2.6 percent, t15,164.64 Tuesday. It was the first time the index had finished above the psychologically significant 15,000-point level since Aug. 25.

On Monday, the index was closed because of a national holiday.

The news of the New York rally bolstered the optimism generated by news that Japanese banks say they'll start taking government money needed to fix bad loans.

In Hong Kong, the blue-chip Hang Seng Index rallied to a nearly seven-month high. By midday, it stood at 10,796.13, up 281.60 points, or 2.7 percent, for its second big jump in two days.

"The market is rising, following the better performance of overseas markets," said Percy Au-Young, sales director at DBS Securities Hong Kong Ltd.

In Singapore, the benchmark Straits Times Index broke through the important 1,400-point plateau, rising 44.62 points, or 3.2 percent, to 1,421.56 points by midday.

Across Asia, stock markets have been enjoying significant recoveries from the striking lows they had reached since the region's financial crisis struck about 17 months ago.

Tokyo's Nikkei has increased nearly 12 percent since it fell to 13,406.39 on Sept. 30, its lowest point in 12 years.

Singapore's key index, which dropped to a low of 800.27 on Sept. 4, has since risen 72 percent.

Since falling to a five-year low of 6,660.42 on Aug. 13, Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng has gained 58 percent.

The indexes in Asia's three hardest-hit countries - Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia - also have improved, some even more dramatically than those of Singapore and Hong Kong.

But that also has left analysts warning that the region's economic outlook just can't justify these gains.

In Singapore, one trader called Tuesday's gain a "knee-jerk reaction" to the surge in New York, and warned that profit-taking had already begun to set in. Like many market analysts in Singapore, he spoke on condition of anonymity.

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