Asian markets mixed ahead of key Germany vote

Friday, 30 September 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HONG KONG (AFP): Asian markets were mixed in choppy trade Thursday ahead of a key vote by Germany’s parliament on whether to approve an expansion of the eurozone’s rescue fund.

A new European Union-International Monetary Fund audit of Greece’s progress under its 110 billion euro ($150 billion) bailout also weighed on sentiment.

Tokyo reversed early losses to finish 0.99 percent higher, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange rising 85.58 points to 8,701.23 as the market welcomed a rebound in the euro.

But Seoul was the standout performer, putting on 2.68 percent amid growing expectations that Germany will likely be the latest of the 17 eurozone parliaments to ratify an expansion of the 440-billion-euro ($599 billion) fund.

“Of course it won’t solve the eurozone’s fundamental debt problem, but at least it will provide some relief,” Tong Yang Securities analyst Cho Byung-Hyun told Dow Jones Newswires. Sydney slipped 0.77 percent, but finished off its lows, while Chinese shares were down 0.53 percent in afternoon trade on tight liquidity before an upcoming holiday. Hong Kong markets were closed for the day due to a typhoon warning.

The tone was set by see-sawing sessions in the United States and Europe. Bourses opened higher but sank toward the close, with US stocks taking a sharp drop in the last hour of trade to break a three-session run of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 1.61 percent lower at 11,010.90, while the broader S&P 500 gave up 2.07 percent to 1,151.06 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 2.17 percent to 2,491.58. Stocks came under the shadow of a push in Europe Wednesday on landmark proposals to tax the financial sector, ignoring US opposition in a move also sure to provoke a row with London which fears capital flight from the city.

But the main worry continues to be eurozone debt crisis. “The biggest event risk on traders’ minds is the German vote on the expanded powers of the EFSF,” said IG Markets analyst Ben Potter in Sydney, referring to the European Financial Stability Facility.

“The vote is key and whilst most see this being voted through, markets will remain nervous ahead of it.”On foreign exchange markets, the euro gained on buybacks against other major currencies in Asia.

The euro fetched $1.3608 in Tokyo trade against $1.3536 in New York late Wednesday. The European single unit also rose to 104.09 yen from 103.60 yen.

The dollar traded at 76.51 yen, little changed from 76.53 yen. World oil prices rebounded in Asian trade on bargain-hunting, but persistent concerns over the faltering US economy and the eurozone debt crisis weighed on sentiment. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in November, turned higher in afternoon trade, rising five cents to $81.26 and    Brent North Sea crude for November delivery climbed 26 cents to $104.07. Prices were boosted by traders buying cheaper oil following recent falls.

Gold was at $1,623 an ounce by 0600 GMT, down slightly from $1,637.10, where it stood at the same time on Wednesday.