Asian stock markets tumble as Greece debt worries overshadow stronger earnings

By Tomoko A. Hosaka, AP
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Asian stock markets tumble amid Greece debt woes

TOKYO — Renewed worries about Greece’s debt problems spread to Asia Wednesday, sending stock markets broadly lower following sharp declines in the U.S. and Europe.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average led the region-wide retreat with a 2.5 percent fall to 10,935.99. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 1.9 percent to 20,853.83, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.5 percent to 1,723.76. All other major Asian benchmarks were down more than 1 percent and oil slid below $83 a barrel.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.9 percent to 10,991.99 in its worst loss in almost three months.

Concerns about Europe intensified when Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s debt to junk status and hit Portugal with a two-notch rating cut.

Investors have been on edge for months about Greece’s fiscal crisis even as they’ve sent stocks higher on signs of an improving U.S. economy. Greece has already acknowledged it can’t pay debts due shortly and has asked for a bailout from European neighbors and the International Monetary Fund. Markets have also been worried that Portugal could be the next weak European economy to require help.

In Tokyo, the jitters overshadowed earnings reports showing solid recovery among Japanese companies.

Shares of Softbank Corp., the only mobile carrier in Japan to offer the iPhone, fell 2.8 percent even after doubling net profit last fiscal year. Sharp was down 2.3 percent. The electronics maker said Tuesday it rebounded to profits last year and expects net profit to surge 11-fold this fiscal year through March 2011.

Oil prices dropped for a second straight day on Tuesday amid the global stock sell-off. Benchmark crude for May delivery fell $1.76 to settle at $82.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 93.20 yen from 93.07 yen late Tuesday. The euro was trading at $1.3197 from $1.3155.

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