Asian markets mostly down, Tokyo rally ends after 12 days

Asian stock exchange

Asian stock exchange

Asian markets mostly fell Tuesday, with Tokyo declining after a 12-day rally, while in Europe Greece’s creditors held impromptu talks aimed at resolving the country’s months-long debt crisis.

However, mainland Chinese shares had advanced more than one percent in the afternoon, adding to the previous day’s surge and almost erasing a near-seven percent slump over Thursday and Friday.

Tokyo eased 0.13 percent, or 26.68 points, to 20,543.19, ending the Nikkei’s best winning streak since a 13-day run in 1988 at the height of Japan’s stock market bubble.

Shanghai gained 1.69 percent, or 81.79 points, to 4,910.53 adding to the near-five percent rise Monday.

But Hong Kong shed 0.47 percent, or 130.44 points, to close at 27,466.72 while Sydney plunged 1.73 percent, or 99.4 points, to 5,636.0 and Seoul fell 1.13 percent, or 23.73 points, to 2,078.64.

More upbeat US indicators added to expectations the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates soon, which in turn helped the dollar to 12-year highs against the yen.

Data showing US construction spending picked up strongly in April increased belief the US economy is rebounding after the winter stall, which saw it contract in the first three months of the year.

The Institute for Supply Management, meanwhile, said its measure of US manufacturing activity climbed last month from a near two-year low in April.

The Dow rose 0.16 percent Monday, the S&P 500 gained 0.21 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.25 percent.

The dollar was at 124.57 yen in Tokyo Tuesday compared with 124.81 yen late Monday in New York, where at one point it touched 125.05 yen — its strongest level since December 2002.

The euro bought $1.0952 from $1.0924, and was also at 136.44 yen compared with 136.35.

– Greece talks –

The heads of the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss Greece’s crisis as a Friday debt repayment deadline approaches.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde and ECB boss Mario Draghi unexpectedly visited Germany for the late-night talks to come up with “a final proposal” to present to Athens, according to German daily Die Welt.

Merkel’s office said the group agreed only to work together “intensely” in the coming days and would stay in “close contact in the coming days”.

In a sign of possible progress, European Union commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pierre Moscovici told French radio there had been “serious progress” in the talks but much still needed to be achieved.

Greece is battling to agree an overhaul of its bailout in order to unlock billions of euros in aid that will allow it to service its debts. There are fears that failure to do so will see Athens default, which could see it leave the eurozone.

A deal has so far proved elusive as the creditors are demanding greater reforms in return for the cash, which Greece’s anti-austerity government has refused to accept.

Oil prices rose owing to the stronger US dollar and as dealers expect the OPEC cartel to stick to current output levels at a key meeting this week despite a global supply glut.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery added 49 cents to $60.69 while Brent crude for July rose 52 cents to $65.40.

Gold fetched $1,187.15 compared with $1,185.80 late Monday.

In other markets:

— Taipei ended 0.12 percent lower, giving up 11.43 points to 9,614.26.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co fell 0.69 percent to Tw$144.0 while Hon Hai Precision Industry closed 0.51 percent higher at Tw$97.8.

— Wellington rose 0.32 percent, or 18.79 points, to 5,863.74.

Xero was up 0.49 percent at NZ$20.60 and Warehouse Group climbed 0.69 percent to NZ$2.90.

— Manila fell 1.54 percent, or 118.41 points, to 7,551.96.

Ayala Land dropped 1.86 percent to 39.55 pesos, Universal Robina was down 3.72 percent at 191.50 pesos, and GT Capital Holdings sank 2.17 percent to 1,350 pesos.

— Jakarta was closed for a public holiday.

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