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Japanese stocks fell for the third time this week as on Wednesday Moody's and Chinese ratings agency Dagong both put the US AAA credit rating on negative watch. This news plunged the dollar down against the yen and hurt an outlook for Asian exporters.
Japanese stocks also slipped today after Bernanke’s comments about a risk of a U.S. default and the impact of dollar weakness on exporters.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, lost 0.7 percent.
Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s biggest shipping line by sales, sang 1.7 percent after cargo rates dropped.
Dainippon Screen, a maker of equipment used to clean semiconductor wafers, slumped 4.2 percent to 645 yen, the lowest since Jan. 13.
As for gainers, among stocks that rose, smelter Toho Titanium Co. jumped by 1.7 percent to 2,336 yen after Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. upgraded stocks to “outperform” due to a “sharp recovery” in titanium demand.
China’s Shanghai Composite index gained 0.53 per cent to 2,994.
The Shanghai index was up 0.53% per cent at 2,944.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.27 per cent 9,936.
European stocks fell for the fourth day in five after Italy auctioned bonds and US AAA credit rating was put on negative watch. According to JPMorgan Chase & Co, even a temporary default will probably have “large systemic effects” on the economy and Treasury finances.
Italy sold five-year bonds at the highest yield in three years. The Treasury priced 1.25 billion euros ($1.8 billion) of 2016 bonds today at an average yield of 4.93 percent, up from a yield of 3.9 percent at a previous auction on June 14.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won a confidence vote in the Italian Senate on its four-year austerity plan, which aims to balance the budget by 2014. The Chamber of Deputies will pass the plan tomorrow.
Germany’s Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen snubbed the European Union’s bank stress tests, refusing to give the European Banking Authority permission to publish all of its data. The stress test results will be announced on Friday after the European stocks markets’ close.
Wednesday Greece's credit rating was cut three levels by Fitch Ratings from B+ to CCC, the lowest grade for any country in the world, saying about “real possibility” of default.
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC), the U.K.-based oilfield services and engineering provider, decreased 3.8 percent as it was downgraded to “underweight” from “equal weight” at Barclays.
Software AG sang 16 percent, its largest decline in more than two years, after posting a decline in sales.
SAP AG, the world’s biggest business-software maker, lost 2.8 percent.
Accor SA (AC) and Intercontinental Hotels Group Plc (IHG) fell 2.2 percent to 29.64 euros and 3.2 percent to 1,241 pence, respectively, after rival Marriott’s third-quarter earnings outlook was forecasted below forecasts.
Daily Mail & General Trust Plc (DMGO) shed 4.1 percent to 421.3 pence as its data in advertising sales declined 7 percent in the 13 weeks through July 3.
U.S. stocks fell Thursday, giving up early gains after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank may not be as willing to move on further stimulus as previously indicated.
Shares of Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500), DuPont (DD, Fortune 500) and Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) were the biggest drags on the blue chip index.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500) was the best performer on the Dow, rising roughly 2%, after reporting quarterly income and revenue that topped estimates. But the bank also said that it sees additional costs for resolving mortgage issues.
Economy: The Labor Department said jobless claims fell 22,000 to 405,000 in the latest week. Economists were expecting weekly claims to decrease to 410,000.
The producer price index -- a reading of wholesale inflation -- fell 0.4% in June, after rising 0.2% the prior month. Economists were expecting the measure to have fallen 0.2%.
June retail sales rose 0.1%, according to the Commerce Department. Sales were expected to have fallen 0.2% last month.
Companies: ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) said it plans to split its operations into two distinct publicly traded corporations, sending its stock up 1.5%. In a tax-free spin to shareholders, ConocoPhillips will separate its oil refining and marketing business from its exploration and production operations.
The merger between NYSE Euronext (NYX, Fortune 500) and Deutsche Boerse moved one step closer to completion on Thursday after Deutsche shareholders gave preliminary approval of the merger. Shares of NYSE Euronext edged lower.
News Corp (NWSA, Fortune 500) shares dropped 3% following several reports that the FBI is opening up an investigation into whether its media properties may have hacked into 9/11 victims' voicemails.
European music-streaming service Spotify launched in the U.S. today, bringing shares of competitor Pandora (P) down 1%.
Marriott (MAR, Fortune 500) shares plunged more than 6.5%, after the company cut its full-year outlook.
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