Market Risk

HONG KONG, February 23, 2011 (AFP) – Asian stock markets fell further and oil remained high on Wednesday as the leader of major crude exporter Libya warned he would fight “to the last drop of my blood”. Gold opened at $1,397-$1,398.00 an ounce by the close in Hong Kong, up from Tuesday’s finish of $1,400.00-$1,401.00. In New Zealand the Wellington market was quiet as attention was focused on the rescue operation in Christchurch after an earthquake Tuesday left almost 400 people dead or missing.

Tokyo shed 0.20 percent by the break, Hong Kong fell 0.29 percent, Sydney eased 0.27 percent and Shanghai dropped 0.22 percent while Seoul was flat.

Dealers extended losses after the previous day’s slumps as the troubles across the Middle East and North Africa raise concerns over supplies of oil.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on Tuesday ordered his supporters to crush an uprising and warned he would fight to the death to remain in charge of the country he has ruled since 1969.

“This is my country, my country,” he raged on national television. “I will fight to the last drop of my blood.”

The violence across the country — inspired by the toppling of the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt