Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Asia markets slip despite Wall Street lead

HONG KONG: Asian markets slipped on Tuesday as dealers looked for a foothold to spur buying despite a positive lead from Wall Street.

Sydney was 0.37 percent lower, giving up 15.8 points to 4,275.0 while Hong Kong slipped 0.80 percent in the afternoon and Seoul lost 0.24 percent, or 4.85 points, to 2,042.15.

Shanghai was 0.92 percent lower while Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.

"Across Asia, markets are weaker despite a fairly positive lead from US trade," said Melbourne-based Stan Shamu, Market Strategist at IG Markets, in a note.

"Markets are just looking tired at these levels and in the absence of a catalyst; it seems investors are happy to remain on the sidelines," Shamu said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

With few pointers, investors took a breather from a rally that has seen most markets rise between 10 and 20 percent since the start of 2012 thanks to upbeat data from the United States and easing fears over Europe's debt crisis.

Wall Street provided a positive cue after Apple said it would use some of its $98 billion cash stockpile to pay its first quarterly dividend since 1995 -- $2.65 per share -- and buy back $10 billion of shares.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.75 percent, the Dow added 0.05 percent and the broad S&P 500 gained 0.40 percent.

Adding to Apple's lustre was its announcement that it sold a record three million new iPads, which launched globally on Friday.

However, Apple-linked Asian shares were mixed despite the news.
In Seoul LG Display rose 0.86 percent and Hynix Semiconductor added 0.51 percent and LG Innotek dropped 1.2 percent.

Energy firms continued to prove attractive on the back of still-high crude costs, which have been driven by the ongoing row between Tehran and the West over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

Iran at the weekend refused to budge over the issue, saying the programme was for civilian purposes and denying US claims it is trying to build an atomic bomb.

The Middle Eastern country has refused to shut off a key oil route if Washington and Europe hit it with more sanctions, stoking fears over supply.

While the two main contracts eased slightly Tuesday -- owing to oil giant Saudi Arabia saying it would help stabilise prices -- they are still close to multi-year highs.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April, shed 62 cents to $107.47 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May was down 52 cents at $125.19 in the afternoon.
In Sydney, Woodside Petroleum rose 1.2 percent and Origin Energy gained 0.4 percent, while in Seoul S-Oil climbed three percent and SK Innovation advanced 2.95 percent.

On currency markets the euro and dollar held up against the yen, pushing back after the Japanese unit's surge in recent years that was caused by global economic uncertainty.

In afternoon trade the euro was at $1.3226, compared with $1.3239 late Monday in New York, and at 110.36 yen compared with 110.35 yen. The dollar was at 83.42 yen, from 83.35 yen.
Gold was at $1,655.80 an ounce at 0600 GMT, compared with $1,653.64 late Monday.
- AFP/cc

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Source From Channel News Asia

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