June 30th, 2010
11:24 AM GMT
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June 30th, 2010
02:48 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Asian markets opened lower after the Dow dropped 268 points and the S&P hit an eighth-month low, following similar tumbles in Europe.

It doesn’t augur well for the start of what some claim is the year’s most important trading day.

Several factors have sent global markets down in the past 24 hours: weak economic data from Japan, including a rise in unemployment; softening consumer confidence in the U.S.; and a report that suggests the white-hot Chinese economy is cooling. London's FTSE and Frankfurt's Xetra Dax both closed down more than 3 percent Tuesday. The Paris CAC 40 closed down more than 4 percent.

There’s also new concern over European banks which are due to repay part of a $540 billion loan to the central bank on Thursday.

“It’s almost a butterfly effect,” Savanth Sebastian, equities economist with Commonwealth Bank, told CNN’s Colleen McEdwards. “This host of negative data is certainly taking its toll.”

It’s a tough run-up for today, June 30 – end of the first half of the year, and a day that some say presages how the market will finish the year. “Historically the way the market finishes tomorrow is the way we finish the year,” Alan Valdes of DME Securities told CNN’s Alison Kosik in New York on Tuesday. “If we finish tomorrow on the down, we could be in for a tough year ahead.”

Sebastian points out that there is double-digit growth for a lot of Asian countries; the weaker euro has improved exports out of Germany and that despite the ups and downs the United States is still in recovery.

Still, if the past is any indication, stock performance at the end of the first half will set the tone for the next six months. Markets across Asia opened down: At 10 a.m. Hong Kong time, the Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was down 2.13 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index down 1.27 percent, and S&P/ASX 200 index in Sydney was down 1.77 percent.

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