Asian stocks down on Greece woes


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

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

Tokyo lost 0.64 percent, or 129.85 points, to close at 20,257.94 and Sydney ended marginally lower, dipping 2.97 points to 5,535.8. Seoul fell 0.67 percent, or 13.60 points, to close at 2,028.72.

Shanghai tumbled 3.47 percent, or 175.56 points, to 4,887.43 on liquidity concerns as 25 firms launch initial public offerings, which drain funds from the market.

Hong Kong ended 1.10 percent lower, giving up 295.11 points to 26,566.70.

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 Union 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. Otherwise it faces a default that could lead to it plunging out of the eurozone.

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

In Europe, Greece’s Athex dived 4.68 percent while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 lost 1.89 percent, London’s FTSE 100 shed 1.10 percent and the Paris CAC 40 dropped 1.75 percent.

However, while the specter of an exit looms large, the euro remains fairly buoyant, with analysts saying dealers are still confident a deal will be reached eventually. The single currency was sitting at $1.1288 and 139.34 yen in Tokyo trade Tuesday, against $1.1285 and 139.23 yen in New York.

The dollar was at 123.45 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 series of US economic data 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 program to kickstart sluggish growth and inflation.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery added 44 cents to $59.96 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August, a new contract, added once cent to $63.96.

Gold fetched $1,183.25 compared with $1,175.37 on Monday.



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