Monday, March 26, 2012

Asian markets mostly fall amid China slowdown fears

HONG KONG: Asian markets were lower on Monday as lingering concerns about the Chinese economy overshadowed a positive lead from Wall Street and bargain hunting.

Tokyo was flat, edging up 0.07 per cent, or 6.77 points to 10,018.24, Sydney ended 0.18 per cent, or 7.6 points, lower at 4,262.8 and Seoul fell 0.38 per cent, or 7.64 points, to 2,019.19.

In the afternoon Hong Kong was 0.19 per cent lower and Shanghai shed 0.25 per cent.

Traders were given few buying incentives save Friday's positive close on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones index capped a three-session losing streak despite weak US housing data.

End-of-the-quarter "window-dressing" added to selling pressure, while "there are still plenty of factors to dent risk appetite over coming days, not least of which is the gyrations in oil prices", Credit Agricole said in a note to clients, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

The losses added to last week's falls caused by a combination of data from China indicating a slowdown in the world's number two economy, weaker-than-forecast US housing figures and a bout of profit-taking after a strong rally at the start of the year.

Australia's Qantas ended 2.02 per cent higher after it announced plans to launch a joint-venture budget carrier for Asia with China Airlines.

Jetstar Hong Kong will launch next year and fly short-haul routes, including in China, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia, the firms said in a statement as they try to tap the huge Chinese market.

On currency markets the euro bought $1.3260 and 109.64 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, compared with $1.3268 and 109.28 yen in New York late Friday. The dollar firmed to 82.70 yen from 82.33 yen.

Investors are looking to speeches later in the day by US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser.

With two other Fed regional bank presidents voicing opposition to any new rounds of easing, further resistance from Plosser may lead Fed policymakers to take the view that additional measures were unnecessary, said Sumino Kamei, senior analyst at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

"This could support the dollar against the yen," she said.

The euro was also buoyed by signs from Germany indicating it was contemplating allowing the eurozone's new, permanent rescue fund run in tandem for a while with its temporary predecessor.

Though the total lending capacity of the permanent fund, or European Stability Mechanism, would stay at 500 billion euros, the move would increase the combined firewall to 700 billion euros.

While boosting the fund has been regarded in international circles as essential in saving the currency bloc from fresh turmoil, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously resisted such a measure.

On oil markets, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May, shed 33 cents to $106.54 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May was down 31 cents at $124.82 .

Gold was at $1,663.40 an ounce at 0620 GMT, compared with $1,650.60 late Friday.

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Source From Channel News Asia

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