Asian shares mixed after bleak Spain numbers

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  • Tuesday, February 28, 2012
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  • HONG KONG, February 28, 2012 (AFP) - Asian shares were mixed Tuesday after gloomy news on Spain's public finances highlighting Europe's ongoing woes was tempered by positive numbers from the United States.
    Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index closed the morning session 0.57 percent, or 54.65 points, down at 9,579.28 after seeing the best opening in seven months on Monday.
    Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index opened 0.51 percent, or 107.83 points, higher at 21,325.69.
    In Japan a stronger yen took its toll and chip-related shares came under pressure after DRAM chip-maker Elpida Memory filed for bankruptcy protection.
    Daiwa Securities head of investment strategy and research department Kazuhiro Takahashi said he expected Tokyo shares will likely "trend stronger later in the session," Dow Jones Newswires reported.
    "US economic indicators are providing a support for overall market sentiment," he said.
    The dollar was down to 80.29 yen Tuesday in Tokyo from 80.61 yen in New York Monday.
    Elpida Memory is ask-only after filing for bankruptcy protection Monday after the market close with analysts saying Elpida's failure would be a negative for overall market sentiment.
    Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 index was nearly flat at 4,266.1.
    Overnight, banking shares pulled the Dow to the 13,027 level last seen in May 2008, but the index sank back in the final minutes of trade to end virtually unchanged.
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 12,981.51.
    But the broad-based S&P 500 added 1.85 (0.14 percent) to 1,367.59, its best finish since early June 2008.
    Boosting trade was a report from the National Association of Realtors that pending home sales rebounded 2.0 percent in January, twice as much as Wall Street expected.
    But in a sharp reminder of Europe's ongoing debt problems, Spanish Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said Monday that Spain ended 2011 with its strained public finances in much worse shape than first thought, with the public deficit 8.51 percent of output, way above the 6.0-percent target.
    The government is racing to bring the deficit down and make sure the country does not get dragged into the debt crisis mire that has already forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek financial bailouts.
    Oil prices lost some of their recent ground, easing fears that high prices would hurt the global economy.
    New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, shed 61 cents to $107.95, while Brent North Sea crude for April delivery was down 42 cents to $123.75 in morning trade.
    "The pullback in oil prices will give some much needed relief to investors who fear high oil prices will cripple the global economic recovery," said Stan Shamu, Market Strategist at IG Markets in a note.
    "Oil broke its seven-day winning streak but remains at nine-month highs," added Shamu, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
    The euro stood at $1.3413 and 107.70 yen, compared with $1.3398 and 108.02 yen in New York.
    Gold was at $1,768.60 an ounce at 0340 GMT, compared with $1,767.20 on Monday.


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