Asian markets mostly dip as European woes grow
HONG KONG–Asian stocks mostly dipped Thursday, as concerns over the European economy and international conflicts grew.
Traders said sentiment had also been hit by news that several huge mergers had collapsed, including 21st Century Fox’s bid for Time Warner and that of Japanese-controlled US wireless operator Sprint for T-Mobile.
“A perfect storm of low volumes, geopolitical worries and pulled mergers is conspiring to keep markets on the back foot,” said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG trading group.
Sydney shed 3.0 points, or 0.05 percent, to finish at 5,509.0, while Seoul slipped 0.30 percent, or 6.22 points, to close at 2,054.51.
Hong Kong was down 0.78 percent, or 196.57 points, to 24,387.56 at the close. Shanghai dropped 1.34 percent, or 29.80 points, to 2,187.67 and Shenzhen fell 0.92 percent, or 10.83 points, to end at 1,166.50.
Tokyo’s Nikkei rose 0.48, or 72.58 points, to close at 15,232.37, bucking the regional trend, as late bargain-hunting dragged the Japanese market out of negative territory and snapped a five-day losing streak.
The falls in other Asian markets followed losses in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Lisbon. Official data showed Italy slid back into recession in the second quarter, prompting renewed fears about the health of the eurozone.
‘Risk of new recession’
“It isn’t just Ukraine. Even without the risk of some kind of Russian intervention as the Ukrainian army moves to crush separatists, Europe’s economy is dead in the water and at risk of a new recession,” Reorient Group told Dow Jones Newswires.
In the US, stocks edged higher Wednesday despite new Russian sanctions against the West, with investors saying the economy was “insulated” from conflicts in the Middle East and Europe.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.08 percent to 16,443.34, while the broad-based S&P 500 was essentially flat. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 2.22 (0.05 percent) to 4,355.05.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said: “The US appears to be more of a safe haven. Investors are trying to cozy back up to the US where there is economic growth and where our economy is somewhat insulated from the geopolitical confrontations that are going on.”
On the currency markets, the euro edged up in Asia on Thursday ahead of central bank meetings as investors focus on whether European policymakers will hint at further monetary easing.
In Tokyo afternoon trading, the European single currency bought $1.3385 and 136.93 yen, against $1.3384 and 136.66 yen in New York on Wednesday.
The dollar strengthened to 102.30 yen against 102.11 yen.
In oil trade, the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery dipped 24 cents to $96.68 in late-afternoon trade, after falling 46 cents in New York to its lowest closing level since February 3. Brent crude for September eased eight cents to $104.51.
Gold fetched $1,305.20 an ounce by 1055 GMT compared with $1,293.88 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
— Bangkok was flat, shedding 0.14 points to 1,522.27.
Airports of Thailand gained 2.82 percent to 219 baht, while oil company PTT added 0.31 percent to 326 baht.
— Jakarta ended up 0.17 percent, or 8.75 points, at 5,066.98.
Mining firm Aneka Tambang gained 3.27 percent to 1,265 rupiah, while palm oil company Wilmar Cahaya Indonesia slipped 2.02 percent to 1,940 rupiah.
— Kuala Lumpur fell 0.14 percent, or 2.60 points, to close at 1,867.32.
Tenaga Nasional eased 1.63 percent to 12.10 ringgit, Public Bank lost 0.20 percent to 19.76 while Malayan Banking added 0.30 percent to 10.00 ringgit.
— Manila was up 0.09 percent, or 6.24 points, to 6,955.21.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. bucked the trend to fall by 2.27 percent to 3,014 pesos, while Nickel Asia Corp. gained 4.11 percent to 39.25 pesos.
— Mumbai retreated 0.30 percent, or 76.26 points, to 25,589.01 points.
Bhushan Steel fell 19.99 percent to 243.70, while Bharti Infratel fell 6.59 percent to 253.05 rupees.
— Singapore shed 0.18 percent, or 6.01 points, to 3,314.22.
DBS Bank eased 1.25 percent to Sg$18.14 while vehicle distributor Jardine Cycle & Carriage was down 2.15 percent to Sg$44.97.
— Taipei fell 12.53 points, or 0.14 percent, to 9,131.44.
TSMC rose 0.83 percent to Tw$121.5, while Formosa Plastics Corp. fell 1.18 percent to Tw$75.3.
— Wellington rose 0.10 percent or 5.28 points to 5,097.51.
Fletcher Building was up 1.02 percent at NZ$8.95, with Telecom Corp rising 0.88 percent to NZ$2.87.
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