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Investors around the world sweat out the weekend

LONDON (Reuters) - Investors sweated through a nail-biting weekend with newspapers warning them to expect a big plunge in Asian and European share prices Monday.

''Europe Poised for Massive Sell-off'' said Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

''City Set for Big Bust'' cried the Observer.

''Black Monday Looms for London after Rout on Wall Street,'' said the Sunday Times.

In France, Le Monde newspaper said fears would focus first on the Tokyo market, then on European exchanges which had also closed for the weekend before Friday's bigger-than-expected U.S. inflation figure caused major losses on Wall Street and havoc in the technology-weighted Nasdaq index. RELATED STORY Sell-off spooks consumers

Taiwan, one of the few stock markets to trade Saturday, took a severe beating, with the TAIEX index losing 5.42 per cent. It has dropped 12.44 per cent over the last five sessions.

''What happened in the United States has a direct impact on our market,'' said Jardine Fleming vice-president George Hou.

''Technology stocks, in particular, felt most of the heat.''

Microchip foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the bluest of Taiwan blue chips, finished with a 5.37-per-cent loss after minor bargain-hunting.

Financials, second only to electronics in TAIEX weighting, slid 5.35 per cent. Plastics, textiles, and construction all fell more than five per cent.

European newspapers generally noted while new glamour stocks of the Internet and telecommunications sectors saw the biggest falls in recent weeks, Friday's panic did not spare senior citizens.

''It's no longer a question of distinguishing between 'new' and 'old' economies: everything is going down,'' said Le Monde.

The big test in Monday's market could be the debut of Deutsche Telekom's Internet subsidiary T-Online.

It will be Europe's biggest Internet flotation, 20-per-cent oversubscribed. But coming late to the party, the company has set the price at the bottom end of its expected range and dealers say even that may not avert a sell-off.

''I think the issue price is very reasonable. Telekom has not ignored the current market conditions,'' said Christoph Vogt, an analyst at MM Warburg in Hamburg.

Dutch Internet service provider World Online has fallen more than 60 per cent since it was floated March 17.

The Sunday Telegraph said Yes Television PLC, a video-on-demand service might decide to scrap its planned flotation April 26 or slash the price.

In the United States, where the Nasdaq composite index was down 35 per cent from its March peak, commentators debated whether gloom should spread beyond active stock-market players.

''If stocks continue to head downward, start-up companies will find it hard to raise money and many will go bust,'' the Washington Post wrote in an editorial Saturday.

''The impact could be painful beyond Wall Street and beyond Silicon Valley too.''

But the New York Times said: ''When stocks lose touch with their economic moorings...anything can frighten investors.''

''Every study of stock prices is reassuring. Take any reasonably long-term period and stock investments do just fine,'' the paper said.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven major industrial countries ended their meeting in Washington on Saturday with a communique which did not mention stock markets.

-- Carl Jenkins (, April 16, 2000

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