Riding the Dow's Shirttails

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HONG KONG: For one day anyway, Wall Street has broken free of the global economy and cured its uncommon cold. Will this mean good health for the ailing East?

"The world finally got what it wanted," says TIME Wall Street columnist Daniel Kadlec: "Somebody to stand up and stop the dominoes." That, he says, should translate into healthy rallies in Hong Kong as the big American firms, flush with confidence, go shopping.

Any rally at all is sure to help Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa sleep a little easier with his determination to uphold the former colony's ailing currency pegged to the U.S. dollar. This was vital for property and banking interests which means, as TIME Asia correspondent John Colmley says, "people have been prepared to take the hit for the currency peg. If that were to go, you'll see them jumping out of windows all over town."

The loud sniffings of rich U.S. multinationals should keep the street-sweepers at bay--at least for a little while longer. "Nobody's out of the woods just yet," Kadlec warns. "There are fundamental problems in the Asian economies that haven't gone away, and that are not going anywhere. But the Hang Seng, for one, has dropped so low in the last week that there are plenty of good opportunities."