Saturday, July 7, 2012

Asian stocks fall despite stimulus moves


HONG KONG - Asian markets fell Friday as apparently coordinated action by Europe and China to stimulate growth failed to reassure wary investors ahead of US jobs data due later in the day.

The slide came as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned the global economy was slowing and said the situation could get worse because Europe was not doing enough to fix its debt crisis.

Tokyo closed down 0.65 per cent, or 59.05 points, at 9,0120.75 and Seoul ended 0.92 per cent, or 17.29 points, lower at 1,858.20, with Samsung Electronics falling despite posting a record quarterly operating profit guidance figure.

Hong Kong ended flat, edging down 0.04 per cent, or 8.49 points, to 19,800.64 while Shanghai bucked the trend to close up 1.01 per cent, or 22.23 points at 2,223.58, with property stocks leading the rise following a rate move.

Sydney closed down 0.27 per cent, or 11.40 points, at 4,157.8.

"Despite a wave of stimulus measures announced overnight by various central banks, it seems such policies are having a muted effect on investor sentiment," IG Markets analyst Cameron Peacock said in Sydney.

The European Central Bank Thursday trimmed eurozone borrowing costs by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 per cent, in a widely anticipated move.

Shortly beforehand, the Bank of England announced it was keeping its main interest rate at a record low 0.50 per cent and said it would increase its quantitative easing stimulus policy by £50 billion ($78 billion) to boost Britain's recession-hit economy.

China's central bank also trimmed rates for the second time in a month, a surprise move that analysts said may indicate the world's second-biggest economy is slowing more quickly than expected.

Lagarde hailed the ECB move and other recent "significant steps" to contain the eurozone crisis but warned that "more needs to be done in order to really complete the architectural job of the eurozone".

Europe's main markets fell in early trade, with London's benchmark FTSE 100 down 0.17 per cent to 5,692.62 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 index off 0.42 per cent to 6,508.22 points and in Paris the CAC 40 losing 0.41 per cent to 3,216.08 points.

Markets were disappointed that the widely expected ECB move was not accompanied by additional stimulus measures to tackle the eurozone crisis.

Cautious investors were also awaiting the June US labour report for signs about the state of the world's largest economy, and whether it would prompt the US Federal Reserve to step in with fresh easing measures.

"Investors are in a wait-and-see mood now, with important US jobs data due later Friday," Investrust CEO Hiroyuki Fukunaga told Dow Jones Newswires.

On Wall Street, traders shrugged off the rate moves in Europe and China to focus on US data showing weakness in consumer spending.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.36 per cent, or 47.15 points, at 12,896.67 on Thursday.

The S&P 500-stock index lost 0.47 per cent, or 6.44 points, to 1,367.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq added a bare 0.04 points to 2,976.12.

On currency markets Friday the euro was changing hands at $1.2383, down from $1.2391 in New York late Thursday.

Against the safe-haven Japanese currency, the euro dipped further to 98.88 yen, from 99.00 yen in US trade.

The dollar, meanwhile, was stable at 79.85 yen, down slightly from 79.88 yen in New York trade, after data Thursday showed US unemployment benefits tumbled last week, suggesting an easing in layoffs and beating analyst expectations.

Oil was lower in afternoon Asian trade, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, shedding $1.13 to $86.09 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August sliding $1.22 to $99.48.

Gold was worth $1,594.90 an ounce at 0855 GMT, compared with $1,618.30 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 19.19 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 7,368.59.

HTC shed 5.15 per cent to NT$322.0 while Chunghwa Telecom was 0.11 per cent higher at NT$95.2.

-- Manila slipped 7.30 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 5,362.68.

Top-traded Belle Corp. fell 4.81 per cent after an announcement of its tie-up with Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment for an $1 billion casino project on Manila Bay.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone dropped 0.36 per cent to 2,754 pesos.

-- Wellington fell 5.50 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 3,478.70.

Telecom Corp. shed 1.4 per cent to NZ$2.455 and Freightways dropped 0.8 per cent to NZ$3.86 while Fletcher Building up 0.8 per cent at NZ$6.27.

  
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