Asian stock markets fall after lackluster Wall Street finish; Nikkei dragged by strong yen

Monday, August 23, 2010

Asian stock markets fall as economy worries linger

BANGKOK — Asian stocks markets retreated Tuesday led by Japan as the yen climbed and investors anticipated more bad news from U.S. economic reports this week.

The region’s markets have spent most of August in the red as economic indicators from the U.S., China, Japan and elsewhere suggested global growth will slow in the second half of the year, dimming profit growth prospects for Asia’s exporters.

This week investors are awaiting reports on home sales, durable goods orders, consumer confidence and revised second quarter GDP from the U.S. — the world’s biggest economy and a crucial market for companies from China to South Korea to Thailand.

The slew of weaker indicators has raised fears the world economy will slip back into recession though some analysts say those worries are overblown.

“A double-dip is unlikely given that governments are set to reinforce stimulus packages,” Woori Investment & Securities said in a report. “Robust economic growth in Asia is offsetting sluggish advanced economies, indicating that the global real economy is still resilient.”

Exporter shares in Japan wilted as the yen strengthened against the dollar amid uncertainty whether Japan would do anything to weaken its currency. Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa held a phone conversation Monday but did not discuss foreign exchange intervention.

The Nikkei 225 stock average led broad regional declines, down 121.55 points, or 1.3 percent, at 8,995.14 — slipping under the 9,000 level for the first time since May 2009. Sony Corp. shed 2.9 percent, and Canon Inc. fell 1.4 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down less than 0.1 percent at 20,884.43, South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 1,769.53 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.1 percent to 4,382.40.

Markets in India, Taiwan and Thailand also fell. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent to 2,660.95.

Australian brewer Foster’s Group Ltd. plunged 4.3 percent after reporting a full year loss. It said a split of its beer and wine business into separate companies was on track for the first half of 2011.

The issue had jumped 6.5 percent the previous day on speculation that beverage groups SABMiller and Asahi Breweries were looking to buy Foster’s beer business.

In New York on Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 39.21 or 0.4 percent, to close at 10,174.41. Other major stock indexes also ended lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.33, or 0.4 percent, to 1,067.36, while the Nasdaq composite index lost 20.13, or 0.9 percent, to 2,159.63.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 84.93 yen from 85.09 yen in New York late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2650 from $1.2629.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 31 cents at $72.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 72 cents on Monday to settle at $73.10 a barrel.

will not be displayed