Asian markets, euro hit by Greek fears

Asian markets and the euro fell Wednesday on fears Greece could leave the eurozone after the country’s second biggest party said it would rip up a bailout deal following weekend elections.

By (AFP)

Published: Wed 9 May 2012, 4:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:55 PM

The anti-austerity Syriza leftists said Sunday’s polls showed Greeks had rejected the strict cuts imposed as part of plans to clear up Athens’ mountain of debts.

Their warning came as European leaders began drawing up plans to introduce more growth measures after furious voters kicked out pro-austerity leaders elsewhere in the continent, including France.

Tokyo fell 1.49 percent, or 136.59 points, to 9,045.06 and Seoul dropped 0.85 percent, or 16.72 points, to 1,950.29.

Sydney fell 0.91 percent, or 39.2 points, to 4,275.1 after the government unveiled a deficit-cutting budget Tuesday.

In the afternoon Hong Kong shed 0.89 percent and Shanghai lost 1.41 percent.

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday his cabinet would reject all austerity measures imposed under an EU-IMF deal if he could form a new government.

“The public verdict has clearly nullified the loan agreement and (pledges) sent to Europe and the (International Monetary Fund),” he said in a televised address, in which he called the bailout terms “barbaric”.

His comments fuelled expectations that Greece would be denied any fresh cash to service its debts, which would lead it to default and eventually tumble out of the eurozone.

Tsipras was asked to form a government after the biggest party, New Democracy, failed to do so following batterings for it and socialist Pasok — the nation’s two main groups which had pledged to continue with deep cuts — in Sunday’s vote.

He has been given three days to agree with other parties to form a government, although many analysts now expect another general election to be held next month.

“The failure of the Greek election to produce a new government provides some support to our view that Greece could leave the eurozone as soon as the end of this year,” London-based Capital Economics said in a note.

The concerns pressured the euro, which fell to $1.2973 and 103.47 yen in afternoon Asian trade, compared with $1.3005 and 103.84 yen in New York late Tuesday. The dollar was at 79.75 yen, compared with 79.84 yen.

“The situation in Greece remains worrisome, especially with respect to the euro,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, market analyst at Monex brokerage.

Events in Europe, which also saw Francois Hollande oust Nicolas Sarkozy as French president on a platform of growth and less austerity — along with similar results in local polls in Germany and Italy — has led to moves to rebalance economic policy.

EU president Herman Van Rompuy announced an informal meeting in May of leaders before a summit scheduled for June, while European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso urged agreement “that shifts the focus of spending to growth-enhancing measures”.

World markets fell on Tuesday, following a mostly upbeat response the previous session to Sunday’s polls.

In Paris the CAC 40 lost 2.78 percent, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 shed 1.90 percent and the FTSE in London slipped 1.78 percent

Greek stocks gave up another 3.62 percent after falling 6.67 percent on Monday, and are now at their lowest levels in about two decades.

On Wall Street the Dow closed 0.59 percent lower, the S&P 500 fell 0.43 percent and the Nasdaq dropped 0.39 percent.

Oil prices eased Wednesday amid concerns on demand from Europe, although bargain-buying provided some support.

New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June, was down 46 cents at $96.55 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed 46 cents to $112.27 in afternoon trade.

Gold was at $1,595.30 an ounce at 0620 GMT, compared with $1,626.80 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 0.93 percent, or 70.00 points, to 7,475.71.

Hon Hai Precision shed 1.36 percent to end at Tw$87.3 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.24 percent higher at Tw$84.6.

-- Wellington closed 0.21 percent, or 7.41 points, higher at 3,559.47.

Fletcher Building fell 0.64 percent to HK$6.18, Contact Energy was 1.22 percent lower at HK$4.84 and Telecom surged 2.72 percent to HK$2.64.

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