Asian Stocks Tumble On Wall Street Losses

HONG KONG – Asian markets tumbled Tuesday after Wall Street slumped to its lowest level for more than a year as fears grow that Greece will default and the eurozone debt crisis will spread.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index closed down 3.45 percent or 90.38 points at 2,531.02, its lowest closing level in nearly 26 months.

Hong Kong slumped 3.40 percent, or 571.88 points, to 16,250.27, its lowest close since the end of April 2009.

Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.

In other markets, Seoul retreated 3.59 percent, Tokyo fell 1.05 percent, Sydney ended 0.64 percent lower, Kuala Lumpur lost 0.45 percent, Manila fell 0.93 percent, Jakarta ended 2.37 percent lower. Taipei rose 0.48 percent.

The losses followed another slump on Wall Street, where the Dow shed 2.36 percent on Monday to finish at its lowest level since September 2010. The S&P 500 fell 2.85 percent and the Nasdaq lost 3.29 percent.

European stock markets, which also fell sharply on Monday, added to those losses on Tuesday.

London’s FTSE 100 index shed 1.40 percent, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 dropped 1.72 percent in Paris the CAC 40 slid 1.49 percent.

Eurozone finance ministers on Monday said they would once again delay releasing a much-needed eight billion euros to Greece to help it meet its debt obligations, saying it needed to do more to qualify for the cash.

Athens had admitted at the weekend it would miss its deficit targets, adding to uncertainty over whether it would secure the next tranche of its multi-billion-euro bailout.

Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday that eurozone partners had asked the Greek government to take steps to ensure further savings in 2013 and 2014.

That would then lead to a “definite and final decision in the course of October” because Greece said it does not need the blocked loans until November.

However, traders panicked despite Juncker saying any suggestion that Greece would be allowed to default on its debts was “firmly denied”.

“The economic plight of Greece remains the key market-moving theme, as market participants continue to ponder the economic future of a nation seemingly on the verge of collapse,” Chris Gore, currency strategist at GoMarkets in Melbourne, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Japan’s Finance Minister Jun Azumi on Tuesday called for the swift passage of the rescue package for Greece to reassure markets and help stem the yen’s recent surge against the euro, which is hammering the country’s exporters.

“We are seeing an extremely high yen and a weak euro,” Azumi told reporters.

“The sense of uncertainty cannot be wiped out unless (euro member states) clearly show the market they are swiftly implementing the assistance scheme for Greece.”

Adding to the impetus to sell are concerns that Belgium’s Dexia bank, which needed to be rescued in the 2008 financial crisis, was in danger of being the first major European lender to become a victim of the sovereign debt crisis.

The bank’s shares lost a massive 37 percent in early trade Tuesday — on top of Monday’s 10 percent fall — on warnings of an imminent credit rating downgrade and wider fears of bank exposure to eurozone sovereign debt.

France and Belgium have announced they will “step in” if needed to save the troubled lender but the issue has highlighted concerns of a domino effect throughout Europe’s banking system, which could spark another global downturn.

Source – AFP/ir

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