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Asia shares slip after Wall Street losses, weak Europe data

Last Updated: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 13:35

Hong Kong: Asian markets were mixed Friday following another sell-off on Wall Street and worse-than-expected eurozone data while Mumbai hit a record high on expectations pro-business candidate Narendra Modi will become India`s next prime minister.

Tokyo fell 1.41 percent, or 201.62 points, to finish at 14,096.59 owing to a stronger yen and Sydney eased 0.58 percent, or 31.8 points, to close at 5,479.0 but Seoul edged up 0.16 percent, or 3.24 points, to 2,013.44.

Shanghai reversed morning losses to end flat, edging up 1.53 points to 2,026.50. Hong Kong eased 0.34 percent in the afternoon on profit-taking following a six-day winning streak.

A recent pick-up in equities took a knock after a string of weak first-quarter figures from Europe fuelled concerns about the strength of the region`s recovery.

Gross domestic product (GDP) across the 18-nation eurozone expanded just 0.2 percent in January-March, data agency Eurostat said, half the 0.4 percent that had been forecast.

Italy, the third-biggest economy in the bloc, shrank 0.1 percent in that period, while Portugal, which is about to emerge from a bailout, contracted 0.7 percent.

Separately Eurostat confirmed eurozone inflation rose to 0.7 percent in April, up from the 0.5 percent reported in March but still well off the European entral Bank`Cs 2.0 percent target.

There was a bright spot, however, with Germany seeing growth double to 0.8 percent, beating market forecasts.

The data add to expectations that the European Central Bank will ease monetary policy conditions to kick-start growth in the region and soothe fears of deflation.Indian shares jumped more than six percent at one point, hitting a record high above 25,000 points, before easing back a touch as opposition leader Modi looked on course for a landslide victory in national elections.

His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared "the start of a new era" in the world`s biggest democracy as preliminary results and media projections put them on track for the first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years.

The clear win give Modi a free hand to push through reforms to boost the economy but some warn he may not be able to turn around years of frustration about low economic growth, rising food prices and corruption.

Banks were leading the gainers, with Canara Bank surging 21.57 percent and Andhra Bank jumping 16.17 percent, while the rupee rallied 1.14 percent to 58.52 against the dollar.

The currency has been strengthening in recent weeks on expectations that Modi would win the marathon six-week election and introduce structural reforms to turn the economy around. It has now risen 17.45 percent since it sank to a record low of 68.85 in August.

India`s share market has risen 5.0 percent in the past week on hopes Modi will kickstart investment and growth in the economy, which is growing at a decade low.

In the United States shares fell in response to weak corporate and economic figures. Retail giant Walmart spooked investors by saying earnings were down five percent in the first quarter compared with last year.

Also Thursday the Federal Reserve said industrial production fell 0.6 percent in April after two days of gains.

The Dow sank 1.01 percent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.94 percent just two days after each index had hit a record high. The tech-rich Nasdaq eased 0.76 percent.

The negative sentiment sent investors seeking out safer assets, sending the yen higher.

The dollar bought 101.50 yen in the afternoon compared with 101.57 yen late in New York and well off the 101.83 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday. The euro fetched 139.20 yen, down from 139.26 yen in New York and also much lower than the 139.65 yen in Japan earlier Thursday.

The euro was at $1.3710 against $1.3711.

Oil prices rose. New York`s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for June delivery, was up 39 cents at $101.89 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for July gained 20 cents to $109.29.

Gold fetched $1,293.39 an ounce at 0710 GMT compared with $1,305.46 late Thursday.
In other markets:

-- Taipei was flat, edging up 7.80 points to 8,888.45.

Smartphone maker HTC rose 0.31 percent to Tw$163.0 while Hon Hai was 0.23 percent higher at Tw$88.8.

-- Wellington was down 0.17 percent, or 8.77 points, at 5,186.19.

Fletcher Building was down 0.87 percent at NZ$9.13 while Telcom added 0.74 percent to NZ$2.73.

First Published: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 13:35
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