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Worries About U.S. Sends Asian Markets Lower

Asian stock markets stumbled early Friday, falling after downbeat forecasts from retailers in the U.S. pulled shares down on Wall Street.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index led regional declines with a 1.5 percent fall to 9,784.76.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.3 percent to 20,667.75, and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.5 percent to 1,731.95. Benchmarks in Australia, mainland China and Taiwan were also negative.

The broad declines followed a dour showing in New York, where lackluster news about the world's biggest economy pulled shares lower. Unemployment benefit claims failed to show hiring was increasing last week, durable good orders slipped last month, and orders of big-ticket goods were down in May.

Also in the U.S., concern over the status and contents of a bill in Congress to overall financial regulation pulled shares in the industry lower.

Japanese exporters retreated amid concerns about the yen's ongoing strength against the dollar. Canon Inc. lost 3.9 percent, and Toshiba Corp. fell 2.5 percent.

In Australia, resource-related and financial names were among the day's big losers as investors digested the potential impact of new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest miner, shed 1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 145.64, or 1.4 percent, to 10,152.80, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 18.35, or 1.7 percent, to 1,073.69, completing its first four-day drop since early May.

In currencies, the dollar moved higher to 89.62 yen versus 89.54 in New York late Thursday. The euro climbed to $1.2324 from $1.2326.

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