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Markets Down in Asia, Up in Europe

Tokyo markets are on a weeklong losing streak. Hong Kong is at a five-year low. In Singapore, stocks haven't been so cheap in a decade - and are still heading south.

Tuesday's plunge on Wall Street sank in slowly at Asian-enfeebled stock exchanges Wednesday, further depressing markets and cementing fears that there's no end in sight for the region's downward spiral.

CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports that Japan's new prime minister and a top official at the finance ministry talked of possible intervention to defend the yen and that stopped the currency's freefall - for the moment.

With Japan holding steady, other markets could catch their breath. Hong Kong shrugged off Tuesday's loss.

"It doesn't seem panicky...just this sort of ongoing depression," said Paul Migliorato, senior manager of institutional sales at Jardine Fleming Securities of the Tokyo market. "No one is near the window ledges."

Still, some were jittery after Tuesday's drop in New York. Just a week after surrendering 299 points in its third-worst point loss ever, the Dow Jones industrial average slid 258 points before recovering somewhat and finishing 112 points lower at 8,462.85.

The Dow began bouncing back from steep losses late Tuesday and was up as much as 101 points Wednesday. By midafternoon, the Dow was up 54.58 at 8,517.43 in trading that was not quite as heavy as Tuesday's hectic pace.

In Tokyko, at a large electronic billboard listing stock prices near the city's main train station, a handful of concerned investors crowded around during lunch break to monitor the action.

"I am worried and the atmosphere is grim," said Seiji Kon, a 51-year-old office worker. "If the economy in the United States gets bad, Japan's economy will get even worse."

Leading European exchanges closed with gains Wednesday after a mixed showing in Asia as edgy traders looked for bargains following a global selloff Tuesday.

On the London Stock Exchange, Europe's biggest market, the blue-chip Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100-share index closed with a gain of just over one-half percentage point Wednesday. In Frankfurt, Germany's DAX index rose 1.9 percent and the Paris CAC 40 index rose 2.6 percent. All three had been down Tuesday.

In Russia, stocks were unable to hold early gains and the major index finished down 1.6 percent Wednesday. Because of worries that Russia's economic problems will be aggravated by Asia's turmoil, shares plummeted 99 percent in a stormy session Tuesday in which trading was temporarily halted because of the steep losses.

At the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the benchmark Nikkei Stock Average fell 28.02 points, or 0.18 percent, closing at 15,378.97 in its eighth straight day of losses.

The reaction in Hong Kong to Wall Street's drop Tuesday was subdued, however. The Hang Seng Index gained 79.53 points, or 1.2 percent, closing at 6,859.48.

But the quiet "oesn't necessarily mean that the worst is over, or that investors should be rushing back into the market," said James Osborn, sales director of ING Barings Securities.

Singapore reacted quickly to the turmoil. The Straits Times Industrials Index benchmark at one point Wednesday hit a 10-year low of 995.60 before closing at 995.77, down 12.16 points.

On Wall Street, CBS News Correspendent Jeffrey Kofman reports traders and analysts are calling Tuesday's sell-off a correction, not the end of good times.

"There's no reasons for [a downturn] in the sense of interest rates or inflation running rampant, " said James Maguire, chairman of Henderson Brothers. "Earnings have been somewhat affected by the Asian crisis, but not significantly."

After so much optimism for so long, there now is some caution.

"If I can trace anything that has changed in the last three weeks, it's psychology," said John Manley, Salomon Smith Barney. "Up until three or four weeks ago, the notion was, we'll get through it somehow. Today, I think the thought process is: It's a very narrow road that we have to walk."

While confidence has been shaken, there is no sense of panic, Kofman reports. The market has dropped 10 percent; it will have to drop another 10 percent - and sustain that - before traders call this a bear market.