Concern that the global financial turmoil isn't over led Japan's benchmark stock market index to the second-steepest plunge in its 59-year history Thursday. The Nikkei average declined 11.4 percent, leading a broad-based downturn across the Asian-Pacific region. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 7.6 percent. Australia's most widely watched average closed 6.7 percent lower. South Korea's and India's main indexes both slid 4 percent. Meanwhile, in electronic trading, the per-barrel price of crude oil for November delivery was at a 14-month low and at half its peak of last July.
The two largest dairies in China said they'll merge their milk- collection operations for better quality control amid ongoing fallout over the melamine scandal. But despite the pledge, the government said 5,800 children remain hospitalized more than a month after drinking tainted formula. Three lawsuits have been filed against the company at the center of the scandal, but lawyers for the plaintiffs told the Agence France-Presse news agency it isn't clear whether the courts will allow any to come to trial. They also said authorities have warned them against taking such cases.