Asian markets mixed, Europe fears return

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HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed Tuesday, with traders spooked by news that German business confidence had hit a 31-month low, wrangling over Greece’s budget and uncertainty about Spain.

Tokyo was 0.25 percent higher, adding 22.25 points to 9,091.54 but Sydney slipped 0.29 percent, or 12.6 points, to 4,372.9 and Seoul shed 0.60 percent, or 12.03 points, to 1,991.41.

Hong Kong ended flat, edging up 3.98 points to 20,698.68, while Shanghai lost 0.19 percent, or 3.90 points, to end at 2,029.29.

Attention turned from this month’s stimulus-boosting measures by the US, European and Japanese central banks to the real economy and global growth worries.

In Germany, the eurozone’s main economic engine, the Ifo economic institute’s closely watched business climate index dropped to 101.4 points in September from 102.3 in August.

The figure represents the fifth straight monthly fall in the index, which is now at its lowest level since February 2010, and suggests that the region’s ongoing debt crisis is increasingly hurting the German economy.

Markets had already been on edge after the leaders of Germany and France clashed on Saturday over plans to monitor Europe’s crisis-hit banks.

Also knocking confidence is Spain’s prevarication in asking for a bailout, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy holding back from making a request as he wants to avoid subjecting the nation to the painful austerity imposed on Greece.

Uncertainty as to whether Madrid will request a sovereign bailout is “highly risky” and potentially more costly than a quick decision either way, European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Monday.

Greece and its international creditors continue to hold talks over its latest round of budgetary tightening as it looks to secure the latest tranche of bailout cash.

Athens must satisfy the “troika” – the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund – that it is on the right path by Friday.

Failure to access the cash would mean it is unable to pay state salaries and pensions, recapitalize Greek banks hit by a state debt rollover and repay more than six billion euros owed to private contractors.

On currency markets the euro bought $1.2909 and 100.30 yen in morning European trade, from $1.2928 and 100.63 yen in New York late Monday.

The dollar was at 77.70 yen against 77.83 yen.

Wall Street provided a weak lead, with all three major indices suffering losses. The Dow shed 0.15 percent, the Nasdaq closed down 0.60 percent and the S&P 500 lost 0.22 percent.

Oil was higher. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, rose 67 cents to $92.60 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for November delivery gained 73 cents to $110.54.

Gold was at $1,764.30 at 1100 GMT compared with $1,757.00 on Monday.

In other markets:

— Singapore closed almost unchanged, dipping 0.80 points to 3,067.13.

Wilmar International gained 1.57 percent to Sg$3.24 and United Overseas Bank added 0.51 percent to Sg$19.76.

— Taipei ended 0.44 percent lower, losing 34.17 points to 7,734.13.

Hon Hai Precision shed 2.40 percent to Tw$93.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.23 percent lower at Tw$85.9.

— Manila closed flat, nudging down 0.43 points to 5,325.17.

Universal Robina was up 2.49 percent to 65.85 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone slipped 0.14 percent to 2,798 pesos.

— Wellington closed 0.42 percent, or 16.16 points, higher at 3,825.32.

Telecom climbed 1.9 percent to NZ$2.39 and Nuplex eased 0.3 percent to NZ$2.96.

— Kuala Lumpur rose 0.38 percent, or 6.20 points, to 1,618.58.

Axiata Group inched up 2.9 percent to 6.30 ringgit, while Tenaga Nasional added 1.3 percent to 6.79 ringgit and AirAsia lost 1.4 percent to 2.87 ringgit.

— Jakarta added 0.62 percent, or 25.97 points, to 4,226.89.

Telkom rose 1.1 percent 9,350 rupiah, cement company Semen Gresik jumped 0.7 percent to 14,250 rupiah and Bumi Resources added 1.5 percent to 690 rupiah.

— Bangkok ended up 0.16 percent, or 2.02 points, to 1,286.32.

PTT Plc slipped 0.60 percent to 332 baht, while coal producer Banpu closed unchanged at 392 baht.

— Mumbai ended up 0.11 percent, or 21.07 points, to 18,694.41.

United Spirits rose 8.89 percent to 1,147.7 rupees.

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