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Asian markets slip on EU summit concerns

June 25, 2012

HONG KONG: Asian markets fell today on pessimism over whether a European summit this week will come up with a plan to address the region’s crippling debt crisis.

Last week’s announcement by the eurozone’s four biggest economies to set aside more than US$160 billion to boost growth had little impact on sentiment, with most of the cash coming from existing projects.

Tokyo fell 0.72%, or 63.73 points, to 8,734.62, Seoul dived 1.19%, or 22.01 points, to 1,825.38 and Sydney closed 0.50%, or 20.4 points, lower at 4,027.8.

In afternoon trade Shanghai lost 0.52% while Hong Kong was flat.

Attention has turned to the meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, where leaders will try to come up with a plan to support weaker economies and avoid a potentially catastrophic economic collapse.

The talks come as debt woes have spread from Greece to Spain, which is enveloped by a banking and economic crisis, while Italy is also in danger of succumbing.

But despite so much at stake there are concerns the differences between leaders on the best way forward — with powerhouse Germany almost alone in arguing for austerity — will mean no concrete or effective plan is agreed.

“We suspect investors will walk away disappointed once again,” said Standard Chartered in a note.

“We expect the pressure on both Europe and its financial system to resume, encouraging further depreciation of the euro,” it said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Last Friday, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – the four biggest economies in the eurozone – agreed measures worth up to 130 billion euros ($163 billion) to tackle the debt crisis.

French President Francois Hollande said the leaders had agreed to mobilise “one percent of European GDP, that is 120 to 130 billion euros, to support growth” – a move Germany’s Angela Merkel hailed as “an important signal”.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said the four leaders had agreed that boosting growth in the eurozone was key to restoring confidence.

The measures include a capital injection for the European Investment Bank, the redirection of some unspent EU regional funds and “project bonds” to finance infrastructure works.

However, much of the money comes from already existing programmes.

In afternoon forex trade the euro bought US$1.2520 and 100.33 yen, down from US$1.2569 and 101.10 yen in New York late last Friday. The dollar weakened to 80.13 yen from 80.43 yen.

On Wall Street last Friday the Dow gained 0.53%, the S&P 500 climbed 0.72% and the tech-rich Nasdaq 1.17%.

On oil markets today New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, gained 49 US cents to US$80.25 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for August rose 41 US cents to US$91.39.

Gold was at US$1,574.95 an ounce at 0600 GMT, compared with US$1,568.20 late last Friday.

In other markets:

  • Taipei fell 0.77%, or 55.67 points, to 7,166.38. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company ended 0.62% lower at Tw$79.6 while leading smartphone maker HTC lost 1.94% to finish at Tw$378.5.
  • Wellington closed flat, edging up 1.93 points to 3,401.13. Telecom was up 0.41% to NZ$2.47 and Fletcher Building off 0.17% at NZ$5.98.



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