QuoteAsian markets sink on Lehman, Merrill woes By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes agoTOKYO - Asian stock markets tumbled Tuesday amid growing fears of a global financial crisis as investors reacted to the demise of two of Wall Street's biggest names, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 5.3 percent to 11,560.66 in mid-afternoon trading, while Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index shed 5.7 percent. Both markets Asia's two biggest had been closed for holidays on Monday, when news first broke about the dramatic events on Wall Street.Across the region, markets were all deep in the red. South Korea's Kospi was down 5.4 percent, Taiwan's benchmark was off 4.7 percent and China's Shanghai index was down 3.2 percent.Japan's central bank on Tuesday injected 2.5 trillion yen ($24 billion) into money markets and issued a statement vowing to take measures to maintain stability in the country's financial markets. Cabinet ministers, along with the central bank chief, were also holding an emergency meeting."The Bank of Japan will carefully monitor recent situations surrounding the U.S. financial institutions and their influences, and will continue to strive to ensure smooth settlement of funds and maintain stability in financial markets through measures such as appropriate money market operations," central bank Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa said.The dollar also got hit, falling to 104.43 yen early Tuesday afternoon in Asia from mid-107 yen levels before the weekend.In Tokyo, the Japanese unit of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. requested bankruptcy protection at a Tokyo court after the 158-year-old firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York on Monday.The storied New York investment bank, crippled by $60 billion in soured real-estate holdings, was unable to find an investment partner to throw it a lifeline despite a flurry of last-minute negotiations over the weekend.Investors were further shaken by the equally stunning news that Merrill Lynch, one of the world's most famous brokerages, sought to avoid a similar fate with a $50 billion transaction to become part of Bank of America Corp.The crisis appeared to be far from over. American Insurance Group, the world's largest insurer, was fighting for its survival after downgrades from major credit rating firms, adding pressure to AIG as it seeks billions of dollars to strengthen its balance sheet.Seichi Miura, strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities in Tokyo, said already weak investor sentiment has been badly shaken by Lehman. He predicted extremely volatile markets ahead.Asian markets.