You are here

Asia: Stocks mostly down on Greece woes


[HONG KONG] Most Asian markets retreated for a second straight session Tuesday, tracking a sell-off in global equities, as Greece struggles to find a debt reform compromise with its creditors, fuelling fears of a default and exit from the eurozone.

Despite increasing worries about Athens' future, the euro managed to hold up against the dollar and yen as traders await the outcome of policy meetings at the US Federal Reserve and Japanese central bank.

Tokyo fell 0.58 per cent, Shanghai sank 1.54 per cent, Hong Kong gave up 0.20 per cent and Seoul shed 0.96 per cent but Sydney rose 0.45 per cent.

After the collapse of talks at the weekend, both sides in the long-running Greek crisis were locked in a stalemate Monday, blaming each other for the impasse.

The European executive insisted the EU-IMF creditors had made "major concessions" but the anti-austerity government in Athens continues to reject what it views as "irrational" demands.

Greece must agree a deal by the end of the month, when it is due to make a huge debt repayment, or else it faces a default that could lead to it plunging out of the eurozone.

US and European shares slipped. The Dow slipped 0.60 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.46 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.42 per cent.

And in Europe, Greece's Athex dived 4.68 per cent while Frankfurt DAX 30 lost 1.89 percent, London's FTSE 100 shed 1.10 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 dropped 1.75 per cent.

However, while the spectre of an exit looms large, the euro remains buoyant, sitting at US$1.1278 and 139.14 yen in early Tokyo trade Tuesday, against US$1.1285 and 139.23 yen in New York.

The dollar was at 123.33 yen against 123.38 yen in US trade.

"All week it will be about Greece and the Fed," Stan Shamu, a market strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd, told Bloomberg News.

"We might start to see the Fed getting a little bit more upbeat and that could cause some volatility," he said.

"Most traders want to be cautious first and react after what happens towards the back end of the week with Greece. For now there will continue to be that element of caution in the market." The Fed on Wednesday completes its latest policy meeting, with investors hoping for some new guidance on its plans for interest rates following a broadly upbeat string of data on the US economy in recent weeks.

And on Friday the Bank of Japan concludes its own meeting, which will be pored over to see if and when it will expand its already massive monetary easing programme to kickstart sluggish growth and inflation.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery added 45 cents to US$59.97 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August, a new contract, added 23 to US$64.17.

Gold fetched US$1,185.99 compared with US$1,175.37 late Monday.