MARKETS

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Hong Kong Stock Exchange Down Sharply: The blue-chip Hang Seng Index crashed 353.82 points, or 5.7%, to 5,816.58 shortly after today's opening on China's attacks on Gov. Chris Patten for publishing his political reform bill Friday. In one of the biggest opening plunges of all time, the Hang Seng crashed briefly through the key support level of 5,800 points after China launched a series of furious attacks on Patten over the weekend. "It looks very, very bad at this moment," said Dao Heng Securities Research director Alex Tang. The market had climbed to record highs only a week ago on hopes that Britain and China would resume talks on Hong Kong's transition to Chinese rule in 1997. But Patten announced Friday that diplomatic contacts had reached stalemate and he was therefore going ahead with publication of his reform bill.

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