Debt woes in the eurozone returned to the Asian market spotlight yesterday, with the single currency hitting a one-year low against the yen amid fears Greece’s fiscal problems could spread.
Shares fell back from earlier gains on comments from US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that low interest rates were needed for the foreseeable future to keep a tentative US economic recovery on track.
However, concerns over the strength of that recovery were triggered by an unexpected drop in US January new home sales to a record low, following weak consumer confidence data earlier in the week.
Concern also mounted that other areas in Europe may also suffer similar fiscal problems, dealers said, while the greenback lost ground against the yen on the weak home sales data and Bernanke’s rate remarks.
Markets across Asia dropped.
TOKYO shed 0.95 percent, with the Nikkei down 96.87 points to 10,101.96 as the yen’s upswing darkened Japanese exporters’ earnings prospects, dealers said.
HONG KONG: Shares closed down 0.33 percent yesterday on renewed fears over eurozone debt.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index shed 68.17 points to end at 20,399.57.
“Until we see it break 21,000 and hold the level for several days, I think it’s prudent to remain on the sidelines,” Jamie Coutts, manager at BGC Partners, told Dow Jones Newswires.
SINGAPORE: Stocks fell yesterday due to fears about a potential downgrade of Greece’s debt rating and concern about global growth.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed down 0.47 percent, or 12.99 points, at 2,749.15, led by a 3.2 percent loss in Genting Singapore.
SEOUL closed down 1.57 percent, as the Kospi lost 25.32 points to 1,587.51.
SYDNEY lost early gains to close 1.17 percent lower, with the S&P/ASX200 index down 54.4 points at 4,594.1 on the Greek issue “weighing down on the market,” EL&C Baillieu Stockbroking director Richard Morrow said.
SHANGHAI gained 1.27 percent, or 38.44 points, at 3,060.62 led by property developers on news that regulators could resume approving equity fund raising by listed developers after a temporary halt, dealers said.
KUALA LAMPUR: Share prices on Bursa Malaysia closed mixed yesterday on profit-taking in select heavyweights and second liners, dealers said. However, they said that the losses were capped by buying in stocks that have announced good earnings such as Axiata, Maxis and Kuala Lumpur Kepong or expected to announce good results next week.
At close, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (FBM KLCI) was flat at 1,270.78 after opening 0.25 point lower at 1,271.03 in the morning.
In other markets:
TAIPEI fell 1.36 percent, with the weighted index down 102.71 points to 7,426.96.
JAKARTA lost 1.18 percent, or 30.38 points to 2,549.03.
BANGKOK rose 0.27 percent, or 1.92 points to 717.10.
MANILA closed up 1.68 percent, with the composite index gaining 50.12 points to 3,031.26.
MUMBAI ended flat, edging 1.77 points lower to 16,254.2
VIETNAM: Closing the trading session February 25, both bourses continued contrary movements. Meanwhile the index of Hochiminh Stock Exchange (STC) strived to gain points, the HNX Index reversed to fall.
In details, the VN Index gained 0.4 points or 0.08 percent to end at 494.99 pts with the total matching order trade of 26.74 million shares valued at 1.165 trillion dong.
Unlike the southern bourse, the HNX Index reversed to slipped 0.45 points or 0.28 percent to close at 162.32 pts with the total market trade of 13 million shares worth over 413 billion dong.
EUROPE: European shares slipped to their lowest level in more than a week yesterday as disappointing macro-economic numbers and persistent concerns over Greece’s fiscal condition forced investors to shed equity positions.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares provisionally finished 1.7 percent lower at 996.55 points, the lowest close since February 15. The index posted its biggest one-day decline in about three weeks.
London’s main FTSE 100 index dropped 1.21 percent to 5,278.23 points, the Frankfurt DAX fell 1.48 percent to 5,532.33 points and the Paris CAC 40 plunged 2.02 percent to 3,640.77 points.
AMERICA: Stocks backtracked from an early plunge Thursday but still closed lower on concerns about lingering economic weakness in the U.S.
The Dow fell 53.13, or 0.5 percent, to 10,321.03. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 2.30, or 0.2 percent, to 1,102.94. The Nasdaq composite index fell 1.68, or 0.1 percent, to 2,234.22.
Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.64 percent from 3.70 percent late Wednesday.
Stocks broke a two-day losing streak on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a semiannual report to Congress that the central bank plans to keep interest rates low to help the economy. There was little reaction to his testimony before the Senate on Thursday.
Advancing stocks narrowly outpaced those that fell on the NYSE, where consolidated volume came to 4.58 billion shares, compared with 4.2 billion Wednesday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 0.03, or less than 0.1 percent, to 630.46.
Benchmark Currency Rates USD EUR JPY GBP CHF CAD AUD HKD HKD 7.764 10.5265 0.0868 11.8456 7.19 7.3191 6.893 AUD 1.1264 1.5271 0.0126 1.7185 1.0431 1.0618 0.1451 CAD 1.0608 1.4382 0.0119 1.6185 0.9824 0.9418 0.1366 CHF 1.0798 1.464 0.0121 1.6475 1.0179 0.9587 0.1391 GBP 0.6554 0.8886 0.0073 0.607 0.6179 0.5819 0.0844 JPY 89.415 121.229 136.420 82.8039 84.2902 79.3835 11.5165 EUR 0.7376 0.0082 1.1253 0.683 0.6953 0.6548 0.095 USD 1.3558 0.0112 1.5257 0.9261 0.9427 0.8878 0.1288 Bloomberg