• Asian stocks mostly down, yen boosts Tokyo

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell on Tuesday following losses on Wall Street, with Shanghai losing more than 1 percent a day after hitting a seven-year high.

    Hopes of a deal between Greece and its creditors over its bailout terms provided a measure of support for the euro after Athens reshuffled its negotiating team following months of fruitless talks.

    Shanghai retreated 1.13 percent, or 51.18 points, to 4,476.21 while Hong Kong was flat, edging up 9.16 points to 28,442.75. The two indexes have been surging on hopes that China will unveil more monetary easing measures to boost the slowing economy.

    “The [Shanghai] market will become more volatile as the index gets higher,” Jimmy Zuo, a Shenzhen-based trader at Guosen Securities, told Bloomberg News.

    “There’s a strong belief that disappointing data and earnings will persuade the government to do more to safeguard the economy.”

    Sydney fell 0.57 percent, or 34.2 points, to close at 5,948.5 and Seoul slipped 0.46 percent, or 9.87 points, to 2,147.67.

    However, Tokyo added 0.38 percent, or 75.63 points, to 20,058.95 as investors struck an optimistic note ahead of a raft of earnings results by major Japanese firms.

    The three main indexes on Wall Street ended lower on profit-taking Monday after Friday’s record closes for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

    The S&P 500 slipped 0.41 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.63 percent, while the Dow eased 0.23 percent.

    On currency markets the dollar bought 119.10 yen in Asian trade, up from 119.05 yen in New York.

    The latest round of weak US data has almost ended talk of a mid-summer interest rate rise. Traders are now awaiting the end Wednesday of a two-day policy meeting by the US Federal Reserve, hoping it will give a clue about its timetable for raising rates.

    That will be followed by a meeting of the Bank of Japan, with expectations high that it will hold off any further easing of monetary policy.

    Greece talks hopes
    There was little reaction to a decision by Fitch to cut its credit rating on heavily indebted Japan by one notch, citing concerns about its budget after it delayed a sales tax rise originally slated for this year.

    The euro fetched $1.0880 and 129.54 yen against $1.0889 and 129.64 yen in US trade.

    The single currency has managed to hold its own recently despite the long-running standoff between Greece and its creditors as the anti-austerity government tries to reform its bailout terms.

    Athens has been trying to negotiate a deal that would unlock 7.2 billion euros in remaining EU-IMF bailout money, which it needs to avoid a default and a possible exit from the euro.

    Hopes for a deal got a boost when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he was confident of a breakthrough by early May.

    While he has resisted pressure to continue with a policy of cuts in return for the cash, he did say he was prepared to consider a number of privatizations.

    On Monday Tsipras reshuffled his negotiating team after another high-level meeting of European finance ministers in Riga ended in failure.

    Oil weakened in Asia after a senior Saudi official signaled that the world’s top crude exporter has no intention of cutting production despite a global oversupply.

    US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 50 cents to $56.49 while Brent eased 47 cents to $64.36 in afternoon trade.

    Gold fetched $1,201.39 against $1,185.34 on Monday.

    AFP

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