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Most Asian stock markets closed lower by 2% on Wednesday.
Investors remained cautious as questions about the US economic recovery linger amid weak US macroeconomic data. The markets was also under speculations about EU debt crisis as Italy’s 10-year yield jumped to the most since 1997 Tuesday.
So many investors dumped equities in favor of investments perceived to be safer, such as gold. The gold hit a new life-time high at the Asian session.
Port operator Cosco Pacific Ltd. plunged 7.6%, and merchandise trading firm Li & Fung Ltd. sank 5%.
Shares of China Cosco Holdings Co. tumbled 5.2% in Hong Kong, after UOB Kay Hian cut its price target, saying the shipping company is expected to post a loss in the first half of the year.
Many of the region’s steel makers were also hard-hit, with JFE Holdings Inc. dropping 3.3% in Tokyo, BlueScope Steel Ltd. stumbling 5.4% in Sydney, and Hyundai Steel Co. giving up 3.9% in Seoul.
Such concerns helped the financial sector lose ground in Asia, with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. down 2.7% in Tokyo, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. dropping 2.6% in Sydney, and HSBC Holdings PLC losing 1.2% in Hong Kong.
European stock equities also ended the day lower by 2%.
The markets remain under pressure by concerns over possible slowdown in global economy growth. On Wednesday both French and Belgium 10-year bond spreads over German Bunds were at record widens, boosting worries about EU debt crisis.
The exchanges received support from beating PMI services data from UK and EU in a whole.
Then Italian PM Berlusconi spoke, denying a problem and blaming the current crisis on international speculation. He said the nation's banks - having passed the stress tests – “are solid”, and noted that “Italy is well capitalized and can finance the economy”.
Morning inventories data from EIA put pressure on the markets as showed a rise in stockpiles by 1 mln barrels in the week ended June 23.
Cairn Energy PLC was among Wednesday’s worst performers in London, dropping 5.1%. The oil and gas exploration company said its LF7-1 well, drilled in a basin off the coast of Greenland, didn’t find oil.
Mining stocks were also lower, including a 4.2% pullback for BHP Billiton PLC (-4.22%) . Credit Suisse downgraded BHP to a neutral rating from outperform, saying Rio Tinto PLC (-3.86%) is its preferred play in the sector.
The banking sector of the region appeared under pressure after French bank Societe Generale (-9%) warned that its 2012 earnings target will be hard to achieve after taking writedowns on its Greek bond holdings.
Most other banks saw shares fall, including a 6.6% retreat for Credit Agricole SA in Paris and a 3.7% pullback for Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt.
US stocks rebounded to the green zone.
Concerns about slowdown in global economy remained as the US debt ceiling bill was signed Tuesday. A fall in ISM Non-Manufacturing put pressure on the markets during the afternoon.
Despite the disappointing U.S. macroeconomic data and continuing concerns over US economy, the stock markets received a strong support from a bundle number of positive corporate reports.
Partly the markets were supported by some upbeat comments from Fed governors Donald Kohn, Vincent Reinhart and Brian Madigan, who told the Wall Street Journal that the Fed may consider another round of stimulus.
Economy: According to the report drom ADP Employer Services, companies in the U.S. added 114K workers to payrolls in July, beating estimated gain of 101K. The June figure was revised down to a gain of 145K from a previously reported 157K.
June factory orders declined by 0.8% after rising 0.6% last period, but up from forecasted drop by 1.0%.
Crude oil stocks change from EIA showed a rise in stockpiles by 1 mln barrels in the week ended June 23.
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