Most Asian stock markets followed falls in Europe, Latin America and the United States to open sharply lower Thursday.

Concern about political unrest in Indonesia and a weakening economy in Hong Kong also dragged down prices.Singapore's key index plunged 3.2 percent at the midday close, and Hong Kong fell 1.4 percent. Japan's benchmark average alone bucked the trend, closing the day's trading slightly higher.

Market participants said investors remained discouraged after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan dashed hopes of a joint effort by the industrialized nations for a multinational interest rate cut.

The plunges in stock prices around the world Thursday - 2.7 percent on Wall Street, 4.8 percent in Brazil, 5.5 percent in Paris and 3 percent in London - also intensified bearish sentiment.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day Thursday down 216.01 at 7,873.77, halting a four-session winning streak. The Dow was down 27.03 at 7,846.74 by midmorning Friday.