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Asian stocks rose for the first time in three days, sending the MSCI Asia Pacific Index to its second weekly advance this month, as technology and finance companies gained on the outlook for earnings.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.5% gain this week. It climbed to a 2 1/2-year high this week as U.S. economic reports boosted confidence in a global recovery, easing concerns that Europe’s debt crisis and China’s measures to slow inflation will hurt growth.
European equities lost ground as Moody’s, the rating agency, downgraded Ireland’s debt by five notches.
Ireland’s debt was slashed from Aa2 to Baa1, only two grades above junk status, with the rating agency warning that further downgrades were possible. That followed a similar decision last week when Fitch downgraded Ireland by three notches.
The European equity markets saw strong gains early in the week as China chose not to raise interest rates over the weekend. That news lifted export-dependent stocks in the car and industrial metals sectors
But by mid-week stocks were falling across the region as Moody’s said they were considering downgrading Spanish sovereign debt, giving investors fresh cause to worry about the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
This ratings news sparked particularly sharp falls in financial stocks. Spain’s BBVA fell 5.6 per cent to €7.59 over the week, while Italy’s UniCredit lost 8.1 per cent to €1.56. The Eurofirst 300 banking index was down 3.4 per cent on the week.
Losses across the region were pared somewhat at news that European Union leaders had approved an amendment to EU treaties to form a new bail-out system for debt-laden countries.
The proposed amendment, which must still be ratified by all 27 member states, would form a permanent rescue fund in 2013.
However, given that the fund would not come online for two years, the news did not provide overwhelming reassurance to investors worried about Spain and Portugal going the same way as Ireland next year.
Most U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to a two-year high, as better-than- projected earnings forecasts at Oracle Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. and the takeover of a regional bank overshadowed concern Europe’s debt crisis will spread.
Concerns about Europe weighted on investor sentiment after rating agency Moody’s downgraded Ireland’s credit rating by five notches.
The S&P 500 was up 0.2% cent over the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% on the five days and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.3% over the week.
Overnight the US House of Representatives approved the tax bill, which, once the President signs it, will extend the Bush-era tax cuts.
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