The Tokyo Stock Exchange, which yesterday led a global recovery, slipped this afternoon as investors' confidence crumbled. But trading in Hong Kong advanced, prompted by higher prices in Tokyo early in the session.
The immediate cause of the afternoon drop in Tokyo, which saw the morning's gain of 97 points evaporate in minutes, was a fall in the dollar's value against the yen, analysts said.
In Tokyo, the 225-share Nikkei stock average closed 257.43 points down at 22,577.53 points.
Hong Kong's Hang Sang index closed the morning session up 145 points at 2,540.76.
The analysts said there was new buying interest in Tokyo from wealthy institutions which began buying yesterday and followed through early today.
But selling by various investors still concerned about the stability of global stock markets led to the afternoon decline.
In Sydney, the Australian stock market rallied by mid-afternoon today, following days of heavy losses, taking the All-Ordinary shares index up 58 points to 1,372.
Stock markets around the world had responded yesterday with mixed enthusiasm to a strong rebound earlier in the day on the Tokyo and Hong Kong exchanges.
But yesterday's turnaround on the big Far East exchanges was not enough to boost stocks elsewhere in Asia or in Australia yesterday, where prices continued to tumble.
Prices on the London Stock Exchange gave back most of their early gains but still finished higher, while stocks in West Germany staged a partial comeback.
In Mexico, the stock market plummeted 13.04 percent, one day after a 16.71 percent drop, the worst in its history.
In Tokyo, stocks had rallied yesterday despite Monday's 156-point decline on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 52.56 points yesterday.
The Nikkei index jumped 632.40 points to 22,834.96 points -- its third-largest rise in a single session -- following its third-largest drop of 1,096.22 points on Monday.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange posted a sharp recovery yesterday, regaining more than 150 points from its worst day in history Monday, when the index dropped 1,120 points.
But the bloodbath continued on the Sydney Stock Exchange yesterday, where more than 40 percent of equity values had been wiped out since Oct. 20, the biggest percentage loss of any world market.
The key market barometer, the All Ordinaries index, slid 101 for the second consecutive day to close at 1,314, before today's recovery.
Prices dropped also yesterday on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The All Shares price index fell 3.71 to close at 274.06.
In Bangkok, the Thai stock market yesterday plummeted 31.50 to 336.68, losing 8.55 percent of its value in the biggest one-day percentage loss ever.
The London market opened yesterday nearly 30 points higher, but gave back most of the gain by noon. It then struggled through the afternoon to recoup the gain, with the Financial Times 100-share index finishing up 19.2 at 1,703.3 and the Top 30 index rising 14.9 to close at 1,322.0.
In West Germany, prices on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange partly recovered in brisk trading from Monday's heavy losses, with most issues posting gains.
The key VWD index closed up 0.85 points at 75.22. Stock prices had tumbled Monday, sending the index down 5.25 to 74.37.