Asian stocks fell broadly on Wednesday, as worsening European debt crisis and lingering worries over slowing Chinese growth kept investors on the edge. With Spanish borrowing costs hitting a fresh historic high yesterday, Spanish and German finance ministers sought to contain Spanish bailout fears, saying that high borrowing costs do not reflect the country's economic strengths.
Officials representing the so-called "troika" of Greek creditors - the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission - are in Athens to assess how far the debt-stricken nation has strayed from bailout terms. In this backdrop, reports quoted EU officials as saying that Greece may need further debt restructuring to meet its obligations.
Tokyo stocks fell for the fourth straight session, with the Nikkei average sliding to a seven-week closing low, as Apple's disappointing earnings report dragged down iPhone component manufacturers such as Toshiba and Sharp, which fell 7.3 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Shares of Ibiden plunged 6.5 percent, while other tech shares like Nikon and Tokyo Electron lost 4-6 percent. However, Softbank soared 4 percent on a brokerage upgrade. The Nikkei index fell 1.44 percent, while the broader Topix index finished 1.56 percent lower.
In economic news, trade data released just before the market open revealed that Japan posted a merchandise trade surplus of 61.7 billion yen in June, bouncing into the black for just the second time in nine months as exports to Europe and China contracted.
China's Shanghai Composite index slid half a percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged down 0.14 percent as reports that Greece may need up to 50 billion euros in additional aid fanned concerns of contagion spreading from the euro-area's financial turmoil.
Australian shares recouped early losses, as benign inflation data domestically and continuing hopes that the Federal Reserve may announce new steps to boost U.S. growth spurred bargain hunting at lower levels. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell more than a percent in early trading before paring losses to end down 0.23 percent at 4,124.
Big miner BHP Billiton edged down 0.3 percent after first-hand accounts of a Corporate Confidence Index suggested that investor confidence in Chief Executive Kloppers' leadership has declined steadily throughout his five-year tenure. Rio Tinto fell 1.5 percent, but smaller rival Fortescue rose 1.7 percent. Atlas Iron tumbled 3.7 percent after releasing its shipments data for the June quarter.
In the financial sector, ANZ slid half a percent and Westpac declined 0.8 percent, while Commonwealth and NAB rose 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. Macquarie Group fell 1.8 percent despite forecasting an improved result for the 2013 financial year.
Seoul shares fell to a seven-month low after Bank of Korea Governor Kim Choong-soo said that the economy will likely grow at a slower pace than thought due to worsening global economic conditions. South Korean consumer confidence dropped to a five-month low in July, while inflation expectations eased to the lowest level in 19 months, as the economic outlook became bleaker due to the eurozone debt crisis and China's slowing growth, according to the central bank. The benchmark Kospi index ended down 25 points or 1.37 percent at 1,769.
Shares of LG Electronics fell 2.1 percent after the company said its mobile phone business swung to a loss in the second quarter. Samsung Electronics slid a percent and LG Display plunged 4.8 percent after Apple's latest quarterly results missed expectations.
New Zealand shares edged down marginally, joining a global slide on persisting concerns over the situation in Greece and Spain. The benchmark NZX edged down about 2 points or 0.05 percent to 3,459, extending declines for a second day. Among the prominent decliners, Xero, the cloud accounting platform provider, slumped 5.5 percent ahead of its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, while gold miner Oceanagold slid 0.8 percent before its half-year results due tomorrow.
Australian food ingredients manufacturer Goodman Fielder lost 3.2 percent, SkyCity Entertainment, the casino and hotel operator, fell 2 percent and Fletcher Building, the nation's largest construction company, eased 0.7 percent. Healthcare group Wakefield Health soared 19 percent after major shareholders Royston Hospital Trust Board and Medusa launched a partial takeover offer for the company at $6 a share.
Elsewhere, India's benchmark Sensex was last trading 0.4 percent, Singapore's Straits Times index slipped 0.3 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average ended down 0.4 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index and Malaysia's KLSE Composite were up about 0.2 percent each.
Commodities such as crude and copper were slightly higher as the euro recovered from a two-year low against the dollar.
On Wall Street, stocks ended notably lower overnight, adding to the steep losses posted in the previous session, with worries about the financial situation in Europe once again contributing to the weakness. Investor sentiment took a hit after a report from Reuters quoted European Union officials as saying that Greece is unlikely to be able to pay what it owes and will likely require further debt restructuring.
Traders also reacted negatively to the latest batch of earnings news from well known companies such as AT&T, DuPont, and UPS. The Dow slid 0.8 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 dropped about 0.9 percent each.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org