Asian markets down as investors brace for US 'stress tests'

Most Asian markets dropped Friday as investors braced for news about the "stress tests" on major US banks while hopes for an economic recovery remain bogged in uncertainty. Volumes were thin, suggesting investors are hesitant to place large bets one way or the other without clearer signs about the prospects for the economy and company results. Crude oil prices and the dollar weakened. As in the US, earnings in Asia sent mixed signals. South Korea's Samsung Electronics reported a massive drop in profit that, while better than forecast, still underlined the toll slumping demand is having on the region's major companies. But results from other Asian firms, including insurance giant China Life, were more upbeat.