Asian stocks fall as signs of slump mount

Asian stock markets faltered Wednesday, with Hong Kong's benchmark down almost 2 percent, as evidence mounted that a worsening global economy has taken a toll on companies. Japan's Nikkei stock average slid 146.11 points, or 1.7 percent, to 8,663.19 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 256.49, or 1.8 percent, to 13,784.41. In China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 percent to end morning trading at 1,828.56, as growing skepticism over the likely effectiveness of the country's $586 billion stimulus plan clouded sentiment. "The markets are more pessimistic today," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist at CFC Seymor in Hong Kong. "It is evident that recession is having a detrimental impact on demand, prices, sales and profits." Investors found few reasons to buy after Wall Street pulled back as it became clear that slowing consumer demand was hitting a wide cross-section of companies.