Monday, March 12, 2012

Asian shares mostly weaker as China data weigh

HONG KONG : Asian shares fell on Monday as better-than-expected US jobs data were overshadowed by figures indicating a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy.

A declaration by a global derivatives group that Greece's debt restructuring deal last week had led to the country defaulting on its repayment obligations also hurt confidence and weighed on the euro.

Tokyo closed 0.40 percent lower, giving up 39.88 points to 9,889.86, Sydney was off 0.36 percent, or 15.3 points, at 4,196.7 and Seoul shed 0.78 percent, or 15.80 points, to 2,002.50.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index added 48.18 points to 21,134.18.

The US Labor Department said at the end of last week that the economy had added a net 227,000 jobs in February, well above expectations, and the unemployment rate held at a three-year-low of 8.3 percent.

Friday's announcement was the latest in a string of upbeat jobs figures that suggest recovery in the world's biggest economy is finally beginning to get on track.

The news pushed the dollar higher, hitting a 10-month-high 82.65 yen on Friday before easing slightly. On Monday afternoon it bought 82.25 yen in Tokyo.

The US unit was also supported by the fact that the Federal Reserve was unlikely to announce any more monetary easing - which would cheapen the dollar - while the economy looked to be doing so well.

"The possibility that the US Fed takes a fresh monetary easing measure is receding given recent comments by Fed officials and strong economic data," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Barclays Capital.

He added that there "are mounting expectations that the Bank of Japan may take further monetary easing measures" following last month's move to pump $130 billion more into the country's moribund economy to combat deflation.

However, Asian sentiment was knocked Monday after China at the weekend revealed a huge trade deficit of $31.48 billion in February owing to the economic woes in its key US and European export markets.

The deficit was the largest for at least 12 years, according to Dow Jones Newswires - the extent of its archived data - and far in excess of the median forecast of $8.5 billion among 15 economists it surveyed.

Statistics on Friday showed inflation came in at its slowest pace since June 2010 while output growth also eased.

Optimism was also weighed by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association's declaration that Greece's debt deal amounted to a "credit event", triggering $3.2 billion in insurance repayments to the country's investors.

Greece said at the end of last week that 83.5 percent of its private creditors had accepted a deal to take a huge loss on their holdings, which wiped more than 100 billion euros off Greece's debt mountain.

The huge uptake meant Athens could force the holdouts into the deal also, meaning the country had broken an agreement over the debt between issuer and buyer - a credit event.

In other markets:

Taipei fell 1.10 percent, or 88.46 points, to 7,927.55. Smartphone maker HTC slipped 3.39 percent to Tw598.0 while design house MediaTek was 2.26 percent lower at Tw$303.0.

Wellington rose 0.54 percent, or 18.55 points, to 3,452.37. Fletcher Building was up 0.90 percent at NZ$6.69, Telecom gained 1.26 percent to NZ$2.42 and retailer The Warehouse Group slipped 3.21 percent to NZ$2.71.

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Source From Chnnel News Asia

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