August 11th, 2011
09:44 AM GMT
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – It’s not as bad as it could have been for Asia-Pacific markets following Wednesday’s 4% falls on the U.S. indices.
The Nikkei slumped 0.63% but a dark milestone looms ahead. The index continues to near its lowest close in the past five months. Financial-related stocks led today’s declines. Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ, fell 1.9%. Sumitomo Mitsui dropped 1.8%. In a one-two punch, the yen is again nearing a post-war high. A stronger yen hurts Japan’s exporters – when they repatriate earnings made overseas they receive less yen in the exchange. Automakers Honda and Nissan each fell close to 3.5%.
In Greater China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.95% paring earlier losses. Major financial-related stocks were again hit. HSBC Holdings and Bank of China both closed down about 3.5%. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite managed an early afternoon rally to end higher by 1.27%. Speculation is growing the People’s Bank of China may keep interest rates steady which is helping to calm investor jitters.
On the Korean peninsula, the Seoul KOSPI managed to eke out a gain of 0.62%. Investor confidence rose after South Korea’s central bank, the Bank of Korea, announced it would keep its benchmark interest rate on hold at 3.25%.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 initially sank, then rose but ended flat at the close. Mining-related stocks weighed down the index. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, closed down 1.22%. Rio Tinto fell 2.68%. Fears of a slowing world economy mean less demand for resources, such as coal, iron and copper. The “Big Four” banks, however, all rose to lend some support the other way. ANZ ticked up 1.46%; Westpac ended up 1.54%.
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