Shares in Asia and the Pacific were mixed on Friday, ending a tough month marked by nagging fears about the world economy and the financial system.
Stock market gains at the start of the year unravelled further in February and the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan headed for a 6% monthly fall, having hit at one point their lowest since late November.
Grim economic data across Asia, including double-digit export declines and shrinking economic output, are also pummelling currencies.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan fell 0.9% on Friday, reflecting continued pessimism about the United States and world economy.
Hong Kong share prices closed 0.7% lower, tracking a fall on the Shanghai bourse, dealers said. The benchmark Hang Seng Index dropped 83.37 points to 12,811.57.
Yet stocks in Japan ended the month on a positive note. Share prices closed up 1.48% as investors looked beyond another slew of gloomy reports on the health of Asia's biggest economy.
The benchmark Nikkei-225 index gained 110.49 points to end at 7,568.42. The broader Topix index of all first-section shares climbed 14.18 points, or 1.91 per cent, to 756.71.
In New Zealand, the market closed 25 points higher to close at 2522 on turnover of $74 million.
Pike River Coal was down 2 cents to 80c after reporting a loss of $9.6 million in the six months to December.
Top stocks Fletcher Building was down 3 cents at $5.22, while Telecom was unchanged at $2.41.
The Australian share market closed steady. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 1 point, or 0.03%, lower at 3344.5, while the broader All Ordinaries fell half a point, or 0.02%, to 3296.9.
Spot gold softened $US5.7 to $US939.00 an ounce. Prices of the metal had hit an 11-month high above $US1,000 a week ago.
Oil retreated US57c to $US44.61 a barrel after Thursday's jump of more than 6% on expectations of further output cuts and signs of a rebound in gasoline demand in the US.