Asia stocks fall despite global stimulus measures

July 5, 2012 - 11:37 PM

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly lower Friday as investors brushed off monetary stimulus measures by China, Europe and Britain as insufficient to reverse a global economic slowdown.

An interest rate cut by the European Central Bank on Thursday and a pledge by the Bank of England to boost money in circulation were in line with analyst expectations and failed to jolt investors out of worries about slowing global growth.

Even a surprise rate cut Thursday by the People's Bank of China, its second in a month, didn't spur investor optimism, as some analysts interpreted the move as a signal that the world's second-largest economy is in worse shape than previously thought.

"The easing could be a sign that the Chinese authorities are worried about a hard landing," said John Higgins, an economist with Capital Economics in London. "Global equities and most commodities are likely to struggle in the face of weak global growth and an escalation of the euro-zone crisis."

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2 percent to 9,064.28 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.4 percent to 19,736.68.

South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.3 percent to 1,869.44. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.5 percent to 4,150.40. China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.5 percent to 2,190.71.

Other analysts say China's looser monetary policy should spark demand for credit, strengthen economic growth and bolster corporate earnings.

"The government has again confirmed that it will take every measure needed to stabilize the economy," said Minggao Shen, an analyst with Citigroup in Hong Kong. "China's policy has entered into its central stage of easing, which should be viewed as a positive catalyst to move the equity market upward in coming months."

The U.S. June employment report due later Friday is likely to provide new cues for markets. Analysts are forecasting the economy added about 90,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate was steady at 8.2 percent.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.4 percent at 12,896.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.5 percent to 1,367.58. The Nasdaq composite was steady at 2,976.12.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 52 cents at $86.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude fell 44 cents to settle at $87.22 on Thursday in New York.

In currencies, the euro was little changed at $1.2383 from $1.2388 on Thursday in New York. The dollar was steady at 79.94 yen from 79.90 yen.