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April 19, 2011    

Asia equities decline on S&P outlook cut for US credit

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by Elaine Frei
Asia equities decline on S&P outlook cut for US credit

Most equities markets in the Asia-Pacific region declined Tuesday as they reacted to Monday’s move by Standard & Poor’s to cut its long-term outlook on US credit from “stable” to “negative” and said that it could cut its AAA rating on the United States if the US government cannot come to an agreement on its budget.

The Nikkei 225 was 1.21 percent lower to 9,441.03 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was down 1.05 percent to 827.56 but the Mothers market managed to add 0.48 percent to 439.99, with shares related to the semiconductors sector lower after results from US-based Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) disappointed, the electronics sector saw declines and carmakers were mixed on an upgrade in the sector.

Tokyo Electric Power (LSE: 9501) dropped 4.3 percent after it said that two of the reactors at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant are still too radioactive for workers to enter them.

The Straits Times Index dropped 0.6 percent to 3,125.37 in Singapore, South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.7 percent to 2,122.68, the Taiex fell 0.87 percent to 8,638.55 in Taiwan, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 1.3 percent lower to 23,520.6, Australia’s S&P/ASX200 was down 1.41 percent to 4,793.3 while the Sydney Ordinaries dropped 1.44 percent to 4,874.3, and the Shanghai Composite was 1.91 percent lower to 2,999.04, but India’s Sensex managed to add 0.16 percent to 19,121.8 on gains in the technology sector there.

European markets advanced, although corporate results were mixed.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.46 percent to 5,896.87 in London, while the FTSE 250 added 0.73 percent to 11,574.5, with the 100 led by Burberry Group (LSE: BRBY) on higher sales in its fiscal fourth quarter, while miners and the energy sector were mostly higher, retailers were mixed despite an upgrade for the sector as a whole and banks saw declines.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.36 percent to 1,116.42, while the Dax added 0.18 percent to 7,039.31 as carmakers led gains on the Frankfurt index, the IBEX was 0.31 percent higher to 10,376.5 and the CAC-40 gained 0.7 percent to 3,908.58.

New York markets were mixed after new housing starts and building permits issued were both higher in March but the technology sector declined, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average adding 0.18 percent to 12,223.5 in midday trade on Wall Street, while the S&P 500 was up 0.1 percent to 1,306.45 but the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.16 percent to 2,731.09.

Crude oil prices were mixed, with West Texas Intermediate up in New York at midday, while the latest report from London had Brent crude prices below Monday’s close.

Metals prices were higher, with gold nearing the $1,500 per troy ounce level as it added $3.30 at midday to $1,496.20 per troy ounce.

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