Asian markets mixed ahead of EU summitBy Sam Reeves
HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed Thursday as a positive lead from Wall Street was offset by low expectations of concrete action at a key EU summit to resolve the spiraling eurozone crisis.
The euro slid ahead of the European Union meeting, with investors fearful that divisions could scupper efforts to save the single currency.
Tokyo jumped 1.65 percent, or 143.62 points, to close at 8,874.11, but Hong Kong dropped 0.79 percent, or 151.68 points to finish at 19,025.27 and Shanghai was off 0.95 percent, or 21.09 points, at 2,195.84.
Seoul was flat, edging up 0.08 percent, or 1.53 points, to close at 1,819.18, while Sydney added 0.04 percent, or 1.62 points, to end at 4,044.8.
Providing some respite from the eurozone gloom, shares in Malaysian palm oil giant Felda Global jumped almost 20 percent on its stock market debut, while Australian stock in News Corp. rose on a report about its split.
But investors across the region were largely cautious ahead of the two-day EU summit, which starts later Thursday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew to Paris late Wednesday for talks with French President Francois Hollande in an 11th-hour bid to bridge the gap between Europe’s two biggest economies over how to solve the crisis.
She warned lawmakers in Berlin that there were “no quick, no easy” solutions, and no “magic formula” to end the problems in the 17-nation currency bloc.
The debt crisis has now forced five countries – Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland – to request aid.
With Italy also threatened, the EU is under pressure from world leaders to deliver a convincing plan to prevent a collapse of the single currency, which would have massive global repercussions.
“The focus will be on Germany’s fiscal stance regarding regional debt, and the latitude that… Merkel shows in her comments. But expectations from the summit are actually not that high,” said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities.
Data in the United States on Wednesday boosted markets, with a positive report on pending home sales for May, as well as a solid increase in durable goods orders.
At the close of trade Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 92.34 points (0.74 percent) at 12,627.01.
The S&P 500 index advanced 11.86 (0.90 percent) to 1,331.85, while the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 21.26 (0.74 percent) to 2,875.32.
Shares in Felda Global jumped 18.46 percent on its stock market debut, in the world’s second-largest IPO this year after Facebook.
The company’s stock opened at 5.39 ringgit ($1.69) in Kuala Lumpur, well up from the institutional price of 4.55 ringgit in the flotation.
In Sydney, News Corp. stock jumped 3.51 percent Thursday on a Wall Street Journal report that the Rupert Murdoch company’s board had agreed in principle to separate its entertainment division from struggling publishing businesses.
The rise brought the shares’ rally to eight percent since news of the split emerged earlier this week.
On oil markets, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, was 30 cents higher at $80.51 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery was one cent up at $93.51 in afternoon Asian trade.
On currency markets in early European trade, the euro retreated to $1.2431 from $1.2467 late on Wednesday in New York, and to 98.66 yen from 99.38 yen. The dollar was changing hands at 79.36 yen against 79.71 yen.
Gold was at $1,569.79 an ounce at 1050 GMT, compared with $1,566.96 an ounce late Wednesday.
In other markets:
– Taipei slipped 0.19 percent, or 13.40 points, to 7,169.61.
Smartphone maker HTC ended 0.27 percent lower at TW$375.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. added 0.76 percent at Tw$79.9.
– Wellington rose 0.40 percent, or 13.57 points, to 3,401.34.
Fletcher Building was up 2.42 percent at NZ$5.93, Chorus rose 0.32 percent to NZ$3.12 and Telecom Corp. was down 1.64 percent at NZ$2.40.
– Manila slipped 1.77 points, or 0.03 percent, to close at 5,256.15.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. fell 0.95 percent to 2,688 pesos and Ayala Corp. shed 0.63 percent to 472.60 pesos.
– Singapore closed up 0.18 percent, or 5.22 points, to 2,846.82.
Singapore Telecommunications rose 0.62 percent to Sg$3.24 and DBS Group gained 0.29 percent to Sg$13.84.
– Kuala Lumpur ended 0.48 percent, or 7.65 points, lower at 1,594.24.
Telekom Malaysia lost 0.18 percent to 5.68 ringgit, while budget carrier AirAsia shed 0.28 percent to 3.58 ringgit. Shipping company MISC gained 2.71 percent to 4.54 ringgit.
– Jakarta fell 1.20 percent, or 47.29 points, closing at 3,887.58.
Nickel and gold miner Aneka Tambang fell 6.4 percent to 1,320 rupiah, Bumi Resources slid 3.6 percent to 1,080 rupiah and carmaker Astra International slipped 2.2 percent to 6,650 rupiah.
– Bangkok added 0.46 percent, or 5.34 points, to close at 1,171.32.
Banpu lost 0.45 percent to 438 baht, while PTT gained 1.27 percent to 320 baht.
– Mumbai was up 0.14 percent, or 23.0 points, to 16,990.76.
The world’s seventh-largest steel maker Tata Steel rose 1.83 percent to 428.4 rupees and India’s largest software exporter TCS rose 0.97 percent to 1,258.8.
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