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The Nikkei, Japan's main stock index, led a broad decline on Asian markets Monday that analysts attributed to concern over a potential recession in the US. The Nikkei fell another 191 points to its lowest close since mid-July 2006. That followed a 4 percent drop last Friday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.24 percent and South Korea's Composite Stock index dropped 1.8 percent. Shares on the main Philippine exchange closed at their lowest in four months.

Despite North Korea's failure to meet the Dec. 31 deadline for a full account of its nuclear activities, US envoy Christopher Hill said the communist regime will be shown "a little sense of patience." A "complete and correct declaration" is needed before further talks on the North's international standing can be held, Hill said, but "being late is probably preferable [to] giving us something that we can't work with."

At least 17 more Iraqis died Monday in a new wave of suicide-type bombings in Baghdad since the release of an Al Qaeda audiotape urging retaliation against Sunnis now siding with the US. Terrorism, however, was ruled out as the cause of a massive explosion and fire at the nation's largest oil refinery, killing one employee and injuring 36 others.


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