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Asian markets mostly bounce on Cyprus hopes

/ 11:19 PM March 19, 2013

A man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, March 18, 2013. Asian stock markets mostly rebounded on Tuesday while the yen fell against the dollar and euro as concerns over the eurozone abated on news Cyprus was reworking a controversial savings levy. AP PHOTO/KOJI SASAHARA

HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly rebounded on Tuesday while the yen fell against the dollar and euro as concerns over the eurozone abated on news Cyprus was reworking a controversial savings levy.

Nicosia and its international creditors have gone back to the drawing board following a global outcry and sell-off on stock markets Monday in reaction to the tax proposal that is aimed at qualifying Cyprus for a much-needed bailout.

Tokyo jumped 2.03 percent, or 247.60 points, to end at 12,468.23, Seoul gained 0.53 percent, or 10.38 points, to 1,978.56 and Shanghai climbed 0.78 percent, or 17.41 points, to 2,257.43.


However, Hong Kong suffered a late sell-off to end 0.19 percent lower, shedding 41.50 points to 22,041.86, while Sydney dropped 0.56 percent, or 28.0 points, to 4,987.4.

Under the proposal set out on Saturday, Cyprus agreed that deposits of more than 100,000 euros ($129,000) would be hit with a 9.9 percent charge and a 6.75 percent levy would be imposed for anything below that threshold.

The news sparked fears it could reignite the eurozone debt crisis—possibly leading to similar measures elsewhere—and hit confidence in other troubled countries such as Spain and Italy.

In a late development after most regional markets closed on Tuesday, a revised bailout plan suggested that bank savings below 20,000 euros would be exempt from a levy.

On Wall Street the Dow, which last week hit a record high, finished down 0.43 percent, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.55 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.35 percent.

“Monday’s reaction to the Cyprus situation was not unexpected given stocks’ stellar performance over the past several weeks,” said Nicholas Smith, Japan equity strategist at CLSA in Tokyo.

Cyprus baulked at putting the bailout to a vote in parliament as the crippling terms sparked a public outcry, while banks have been closed to stop depositors removing all their cash.

The eurozone told Cyprus on Monday to take another look at the proposal, with Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands saying ministers “continue to be of the view that small depositors should be treated differently from large depositors.”


Currency dealers welcomed the development. The European single currency fetched 123.81 yen in Tokyo from 123.41 yen in New York late Monday, while the dollar bought 95.33 yen Tuesday, up from 95.23 yen. But the euro dipped to $1.2934 from $1.2957.

On Monday in Asia the European unit was as low as 121.76 yen and $1.2903, while the dollar sat at 94.36 yen.

An equity trading director at a foreign brokerage told Dow Jones Newswires: “Despite the recent volatility, stocks retain their vitality, and yesterday’s sell-off should provide a bargain-hunting opportunity.”

Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, falling 11 cents to $93.63 a barrel in the afternoon while Brent North Sea crude for May delivery dropped 45 cents to $109.38.

Gold was at $1,602.20 an ounce at 1035 GMT compared with $1,602.80 late Monday.

In other markets:

— Taipei rose 0.35 percent, or 27.13 points, to 7,838.47.

HTC rose 3.75 percent to Tw$249.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 0.5 percent to Tw$100.0.

— Manila closed 1.68 percent lower, shedding 109.93 points to 6,426.25.

BDO Unibank dropped 2.69 percent to 83.20 pesos and SM Investments fell 2.23 percent to 1,010 pesos, while Ayala Land lost 1.86 percent to 29 pesos.

— Wellington was flat, edging up 4.02 points to 4,345.04.

Sky Television rose 2.46 percent to N$5.41 and Chorus was up 1.74 percent at NZ$2.92, while Telecom was steady at NZ$2.28.

— Bangkok fell 1.47 percent, or 23.40 points, to 1,568.25.

Supermarket operator Siam Makro dropped 3.88 percent to 496 baht, while oil company Bangchak Petroleum lost 2.72 percent to 35.75 baht.

— Jakarta climbed 0.41 percent, or 19.80 points, to 4,822.63.

Astra Agro Lestari rose 1.37 percent to 18,500 rupiah, Indosat gained 3.23 percent to 6,400 rupiah, while Indofood Sukses Makmur lost 1.33 percent to 7,400 rupiah.

— Kuala Lumpur gained 0.25 percent, or 4.10 points, to 1,625.46.

British American Tobacco rose 3.2 percent to 62.44 ringgit while IHH Healthcare slipped 1.5 percent to 3.39 ringgit.

— Singapore rose 0.39 percent, or 12.66 points, to 3,269.13.

DBS Bank gained 0.45 percent to Sg$15.50 and Singapore Airlines climbed 0.28 percent to Sg$10.91.

— Mumbai fell 1.48 percent, or 285.10 points, to 19,008.10.

India’s biggest mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel fell 4.74 percent to 293.4 rupees and Sterlite, the local arm of Vedanta Group, slid 3.79 percent to 92.75.—Danny McCord

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