Asia stocks drop on eurozone worries
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks dropped Monday, ignoring signs of job improvement in the U.S., as traders continued to fret about Europe's unfolding sovereign debt drama.
South Korea's Kospi fell 1.2 percent to 1,821.31 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was 0.7 percent lower at 18,463.81. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also were lower. Mainland Chinese shares rose. In Japan, financial markets were closed for a public holiday.
The U.S. unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent, the lowest level in nearly three years. But signs of strength in the U.S. job market were not enough to offset worries about Europe's debt problems.
On Friday, Italy's borrowing costs spiked to dangerously high levels and the euro fell to a 16-month low against the dollar at $1.2696.
Italy is now paying over 7 percent to borrow for 10 years, a sign that investors are concerned the country could default on its debts. Many economists believe that those rates are unsustainable over the long term.
Greece, Portugal and Ireland were forced to seek a bailout after their borrowing rates rose above 7 percent.
The euro continued its slide against the dollar. On Monday, it fell to $1.2694 from $1.2724 late Friday in New York. The dollar fell to 76.92 yen from 77.02 yen.
In energy trading, benchmark crude for February delivery fell 45 cents to $101.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 25 cents to settle at $101.56 in New York on Friday.