Asian stock markets lower ahead of US data
BANGKOK (AP) — Asian markets were mostly lower in early trading Monday, as investors shifted their focus from Europe to the U.S. economy.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.5 percent to 9,096.27. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.4 percent to 19,938.46, while South Korea's Kospi was 0.4 percent lower at 1,921.78. Benchmarks in Australia and Singapore also fell, while New Zealand's rose.
In currencies, the dollar surged to the 78-yen range. The surge came after a yen-selling intervention by Japanese authorities, Kyodo News Agency reported, citing Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi.
Azumi had warned early Monday that the country might conduct a yen-selling intervention "if necessary" to stop the yen's rapid appreciation.
This week, investors will likely turn their attention to the U.S., where a jobs report for October, a Federal Reserve policy meeting and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's quarterly news conference are due.
A report Thursday showed that the U.S. economy expanded at a solid 2.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. That helped ease concerns that another recession might be nearing. Yet the news may have also raised unrealistic expectations about the economy.
Last week, investors were cheered by the deal reached by European leaders. European banks agreed Thursday to take a 50 percent loss on their holdings of Greek government bonds. They will also set aside more money to cushion against future losses. Leaders also pledged to expand the European Union's bailout fund.
But economists caution that many details in the plan still have to be worked out, including the difficult task of deciding who will pay for it.
In currencies Monday, the euro fell to $1.4077 from $1.4170 on Friday in New York. The dollar sprinted to 78.44 yen from 75.76 yen.