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Feb. 16, 2012, 3:34 a.m. EST

Asia stocks fall as Greece worries weigh

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By Sarah Turner and Nick Godt, MarketWatch

MUMBAI (MarketWatch) — Asian shares fell Thursday, as investors fretted about the possibility of a messy Greek default, although Japanese shares found some support from a relatively weak yen.

The Australian S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.33%  dropped 1.6%, the South Korean Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -1.49%  fell 1.4%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.09%  lost 0.4%.

The Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 -0.06%  also fell 0.4% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.39% declined 0.2%.

U.S. shares ended firmly lower on Wednesday, with minutes from the latest Federal Reserve interest-rate meeting dashing hopes for an imminent round of further quantitative easing and as uncertainty lingered over the prospects for Greece.

Reports suggested that some euro-zone nations were considering delaying Greece’s next bailout package until after the country holds elections — expected to take place in April. At the same time, arrangements would be made to help the country avoid disorderly default, the reports said. See report on latest Greek bailout news.

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Xi seeks to charm Capitol Hill critics

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Capitol Hill, where he hears congressional leaders voice strong concerns about economic issues and human rights. Photo: Getty Images

Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker later said he was confident that Greece would get its next tranche of aid by Monday, on schedule.

“There’s a lot of bad news out there that people have to take into account, and I think that people will take in this opportunity to lock in some gains,” said Andrew Sullivan at Piper Jaffray.

“Europe should be worrying people,” said Sullivan, adding however that “it’s obvious that Greece can’t afford to stay in the euro.”

The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.0206%  bought ¥78.73 yen on Thursday in East Asia, up from ¥78.37 in late North American trading Wednesday and well above its ¥77.60 mark Monday. Read more on currencies.

The relatively weak yen helped some major Japanese exporters add to their recent advance, as Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 -0.54%   /zigman2/quotes/207472799/delayed SHCAF +3.24% climbed 1.1%, and Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -0.57%     /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE -1.20%  rose 0.9%.

However, Olympus Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed JP:7733 -1.61%   /zigman2/quotes/203009041/delayed OCPNF +18.09%  lost 2.4% after the arrest of ex-chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and other former executives Thursday in connection with the firm’s unfolding fraud scandal. See report on Olympus arrests.

Resource shares mixed

Crude-oil prices, which rose during Asian trading hours, helped lift Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. /zigman2/quotes/201212147/delayed JP:1662 -1.14%   /zigman2/quotes/202925532/delayed JPTXF -1.12%  by 2.8%.

But a fourth session of losses for copper futures in New York on Wednesday dented the Australian mining sector, with BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -0.78%   /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -0.45%  down 2.2% and rival Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -0.46%   /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.79%  down 2.3%.

Commodity-exposed firms were also weak in Hong Kong, with Jiangxi Copper Co. /zigman2/quotes/201668148/delayed HK:358 -1.24%   /zigman2/quotes/204256025/delayed JIXAY -2.94%  down 2.1%, and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202960704/delayed HK:2600 +0.44%   /zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite ACH +1.23%  down 2.8%.

Resource-focused conglomerate Citic Pacific Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205176597/delayed HK:267 -2.52%   /zigman2/quotes/208232395/delayed CTPCF -2.29%  fell 2.3%, while Zijin Mining Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/204517000/delayed HK:2899 +1.31%   /zigman2/quotes/209836076/delayed ZIJMF +4.95%  fell 3%.

China’s central bank said Wednesday in its quarterly monetary-policy report that the country still faces the risk of slower growth and higher inflation and that inflation expectations are “unstable currently.”

“The [People’s Bank of China] report that came out overnight should be taken very, very seriously. China is seriously worried about inflation and there is a risk there that it will raise interest rates,” said Sullivan.

“The fact that they say they are going to maintain prudent policy, they are going to maintain tight monitoring of local-government debt — that’s going to be negative for the banks,” he said.

Banks trading lower in Hong Kong on Thursday included Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed HK:3988 -0.93% /zigman2/quotes/200548463/delayed BACHF -1.19% , down 1.5%; and HSBC Holdings PLC /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 -0.26%  ,   /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA +0.45%  lower by 0.6%.

Moody’s Investors Service said Wednesday it was placing over 100 financial firms across the world on ratings review due to the euro-zone crisis and other issues.

The global capital markets “are confronting evolving challenges, such as more fragile funding conditions, wider credit spreads, increased regulatory burdens and more difficult operating conditions,” Moody’s said. See report on Moody’s bank reviews.

Earnings were also hitting the Australian banking sector, with retail banking giant Westpac Banking Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +0.47%   /zigman2/quotes/210300378/delayed WEBNF +0.48%  down 3.5% after posting a drop in first-quarter net profit.

Diversified financial firm AMP Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/206014407/delayed AU:AMP +0.49%   /zigman2/quotes/206400018/delayed AMLTF -0.84% fell 2.3% after reporting a lower fiscal-year profit of its own. See story on Australian stocks

/zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed
AU : S&P ASX
7,139.00
-23.50 -0.33%
Volume: 1.07M
Feb. 21, 2020 5:17p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed
KR : Korea Exchange
2,162.84
-32.66 -1.49%
Volume: 635,474
Feb. 21, 2020 3:33p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed
HK : Hong Kong Exchange
27,308.81
-300.35 -1.09%
Volume: 1.77M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
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/zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed
CN : China: Shenzhen
¥ 15.58
-0.01 -0.06%
Volume: 99.51M
Feb. 21, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
11.14
Dividend Yield
1.40%
Market Cap
¥302.34 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥6.12M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed
JP : Nikkei
23,386.74
-92.41 -0.39%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 21, 2020 3:15p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
111.5800
+0.0230 +0.0206%
Volume: 0.0000
Feb. 21, 2020 4:59p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 1,483.00
-8.00 -0.54%
Volume: 1.50M
Feb. 21, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
15.15
Dividend Yield
1.69%
Market Cap
¥905.88 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥50.23M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207472799/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 14.32
+0.45 +3.24%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 7, 2020 5:19p
P/E Ratio
15.92
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$8.07 billion
Rev. per Employee
$454,670
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 7,479.00
-43.00 -0.57%
Volume: 4.20M
Feb. 21, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
14.41
Dividend Yield
0.60%
Market Cap
¥9172.90 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥72.37M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 65.94
-0.80 -1.20%
Volume: 907,049
Feb. 21, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
13.82
Dividend Yield
0.41%
Market Cap
$80.87 billion
Rev. per Employee
$654,652
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200860615/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 2,076.00
-34.00 -1.61%
Volume: 5.66M
Feb. 21, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
44.80
Dividend Yield
0.48%
Market Cap
¥2668.85 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥22.14M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203009041/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 15.73
+2.41 +18.09%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 20, 2020 5:20p
P/E Ratio
36.76
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$20.22 billion
Rev. per Employee
$200,545
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201212147/delayed
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 2,766.00
-32.00 -1.14%
Volume: 218,000
Feb. 21, 2020 3:00p
P/E Ratio
7.93
Dividend Yield
1.81%
Market Cap
¥158.08 billion
Rev. per Employee
¥156.48M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202925532/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 21.16
-0.24 -1.12%
Volume: 0.00
Dec. 30, 2019 5:19p
P/E Ratio
6.63
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1.16 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.42M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 38.22
-0.30 -0.78%
Volume: 4.79M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
14.30
Dividend Yield
5.64%
Market Cap
$193.27 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 50.41
-0.23 -0.45%
Volume: 2.10M
Feb. 21, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
14.84
Dividend Yield
5.67%
Market Cap
$74.22 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 97.69
-0.45 -0.46%
Volume: 914,264
Feb. 21, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
8.90
Dividend Yield
9.18%
Market Cap
$158.62 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.14M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 54.62
+0.43 +0.79%
Volume: 2.57M
Feb. 21, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
6.94
Dividend Yield
6.06%
Market Cap
$68.80 billion
Rev. per Employee
$852,406
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201668148/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 9.55
-0.12 -1.24%
Volume: 6.27M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
11.75
Dividend Yield
2.38%
Market Cap
HK$33.07 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$12.12M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204256025/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 51.90
-1.57 -2.94%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 12, 2020 5:20p
P/E Ratio
33.52
Dividend Yield
1.97%
Market Cap
$17.01 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.55M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202960704/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 2.30
+0.01 +0.44%
Volume: 21.75M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
319.44
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
HK$39.15 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$3.03M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 7.39
+0.09 +1.23%
Volume: 39,435
Feb. 21, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
325.55
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1.17 billion
Rev. per Employee
$387,394
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205176597/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 9.27
-0.24 -2.52%
Volume: 11.43M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
5.08
Dividend Yield
4.75%
Market Cap
HK$269.67 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$2.10M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208232395/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 1.28
-0.03 -2.29%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 5, 2020 5:19p
P/E Ratio
5.50
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$37.24 billion
Rev. per Employee
$268,597
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204517000/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 3.88
+0.05 +1.31%
Volume: 43.66M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
20.94
Dividend Yield
2.93%
Market Cap
HK$98.46 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$6.84M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209836076/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 0.50
+0.02 +4.95%
Volume: 3,930
Feb. 21, 2020 3:41p
P/E Ratio
21.12
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$12.65 billion
Rev. per Employee
$872,997
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204682472/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 3.19
-0.03 -0.93%
Volume: 260.67M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
4.48
Dividend Yield
6.61%
Market Cap
HK$939.03 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$3.13M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200548463/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 0.42
-0.0050 -1.19%
Volume: 102.00
Feb. 21, 2020 12:44p
P/E Ratio
4.50
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$122.16 billion
Rev. per Employee
$399,878
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed
HK : Hong Kong
HK$ 56.65
-0.15 -0.26%
Volume: 41.48M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:08p
P/E Ratio
23.96
Dividend Yield
7.01%
Market Cap
HK$1150.77 billion
Rev. per Employee
HK$2.88M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed
UK : U.K.: London
562.20 p
+2.50 +0.45%
Volume: 44.29M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:35p
P/E Ratio
23.68
Dividend Yield
7.00%
Market Cap
£114.20 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 25.81
+0.12 +0.47%
Volume: 6.83M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
13.63
Dividend Yield
6.74%
Market Cap
$93.05 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.09M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210300378/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 16.90
+0.08 +0.48%
Volume: 10,124
Feb. 21, 2020 5:20p
P/E Ratio
12.69
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$61.40 billion
Rev. per Employee
$830,218
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/206014407/delayed
AU : Australia: Sydney
$ 2.06
+0.01 +0.49%
Volume: 16.32M
Feb. 21, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$7.02 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.07M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/206400018/delayed
US : U.S.: OTC
$ 1.18
-0.01 -0.84%
Volume: 0.00
Feb. 11, 2020 1:56p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$4.62 billion
Rev. per Employee
$800,887
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Sarah Turner is MarketWatch's bureau chief in Sydney. Nick Godt is a MarketWatch reporter based in Mumbai.

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