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Asian shares slip as Spain woes come into focus

June 19, 2012

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell today as fears about Spain’s surging borrowing costs replaced the previous day’s optimism over Greece’s election, while G20 leaders struggled to soothe dealers’ nerves.

The euro edged higher from late trade in New York, where it gave up all the gains it had made against the dollar earlier yesterday in Asia.

Tokyo tumbled 0.75%, or 65.15 points, to 8,655.87 and Sydney shed 0.33%, or 13.6 points, to 4,123.3.

In the afternoon Hong Kong was 0.39% off and Shanghai gave up 0.44%.

However, Seoul ended flat, edging up just 0.06 points to 1,891.77.

Regional shares staged a strong rally yesterday after news that Greece’s two main pro-austerity parties had garnered enough votes to form a government, beating groups who had promised to tear up a bailout deal with global lenders – a move many feared would lead to Athens leaving the euro.

However, the rally faded in Europe and the United States as traders’ attention moved to deepening troubles in Spain, where the yields on benchmark 10-year bonds rocketed to a euro-era record 7.13%.

Anything over 7.0% is considered unsustainable and is the point above which Ireland, Portugal and Greece were forced into asking for a rescue package.

Madrid’s woes come as it struggles to deal with a banking crisis as well as a miserable financial situation with soaring unemployment and a huge fiscal deficit.

Adding to the gloom, a report from Spain’s central bank said bad debts in the country hit their highest level for 18 years in April, sparking concerns that a 100-billion-euro (US$126 billion) bailout for its banks might not be enough.

“The eurozone situation is far from over amid worries over the financial health of Spanish banks as the amount of non-performing loans in hand mounts,” Rakuten Securities senior market analyst Masayuki Doshida told Dow Jones Newswires.

Despite the concerns the euro rose to US$1.2607 and 99.60 yen, up from US$1.2571 and 99.45 yen in New York trade late yesterday. The single currency tumbled in New York after surging as high as US$1.2727 in Asia earlier in the day.

The dollar eased to 78.99 yen from 79.11 yen.

Leaders of the 20 most developed and developing nations are holding a summit in Mexico which has been dominated by Europe’s long-running crisis.

The two-day meeting kicked off with the United States saying there had been a clear change in European thinking from austerity and towards more growth-friendly policies.

The Group of 20 said they “will act together to strengthen recovery and address financial market tensions”, according to a leaked draft communique.

“All G20 members will take the necessary actions to strengthen global growth and restore confidence,” it said.

But while US President Barack Obama was said to be “encouraged by what he heard” ahead of the talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not indicated she is about to abandon her hardline stance on austerity measures imposed on indebted eurozone members.

Also in Mexico the International Monetary Fund said it had raised US$456 billion for a firewall, with China saying Monday it would stump up US$43 billion and India and Russia saying earlier they would each kick in US$10 billion.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, fell 18 US cents to US$83.09 per barrel in the afternoon while Brent North Sea crude for August delivery gained four cents to US$96.09.

Gold was worth US$1,629.07 an ounce at 0610 GMT, compared with US$1,621.62 late yesterday.

In other markets:

  • Taipei closed 0.11%, or 8.37 points, lower at 7,273.13. Smartphone maker HTC rose 3.9% to Tw$386.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was 0.37% lower at Tw$80.5.
  • Wellington rose 0.70%, or 24.71 points, to 3,480.38. Air New Zealand closed up 0.58% at NZ$0.87, Fletcher Building gained 0.16% to NZ$6.31 and Telecom was 1.81% higher at NZ$2.54.

- AFP


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