PH, Asian markets fall despite Europe, China rate cuts

Posted at 07/06/12 6:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index paused from its rise to successive record-highs, in step with most Asian markets that tumbled despite fresh monetary easing by major central banks.

The PSEi fell 7.30 points, or 0.14 percent, to 5,362.68 on Friday, from a fresh record high on Thursday.

The top-traded stock Belle Corp. lost 3.9%, reversing Thursday's 4% gain, after an announcement of its deal with Melco Crown.

The Asian markets' slide came as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned the global economy was slowing and said the situation could get worse because Europe was not doing enough to fix its debt crisis.

Tokyo closed down 0.65 percent, or 59.05 points, at 9,0120.75 and Seoul ended 0.92 percent, or 17.29 points, lower at 1,858.20, with Samsung Electronics falling despite posting a record quarterly operating profit guidance figure.

Hong Kong ended flat, edging down 0.04 percent, or 8.49 points, to 19,800.64 while Shanghai bucked the trend to close up 1.01 percent, or 22.23 points at 2,223.58, with property stocks leading the rise following a rate move.

Sydney closed down 0.27 percent, or 11.40 points, at 4,157.8.

"Despite a wave of stimulus measures announced overnight by various central banks, it seems such policies are having a muted effect on investor sentiment," IG Markets analyst Cameron Peacock said in Sydney.

The European Central Bank Thursday trimmed eurozone borrowing costs by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 percent, in a widely anticipated move.

Shortly beforehand, the Bank of England announced it was keeping its main interest rate at a record low 0.50 percent and said it would increase its quantitative easing stimulus policy by £50 billion ($78 billion) to boost Britain's recession-hit economy.

China's central bank also trimmed rates for the second time in a month, a surprise move that analysts said may indicate the world's second-biggest economy is slowing more quickly than expected.

Lagarde hailed the ECB move and other recent "significant steps" to contain the eurozone crisis but warned that "more needs to be done in order to really complete the architectural job of the eurozone".

Peso weakens

Meanwhile, the peso weakened by 11 centavos to close at 41.79 to the US dollar.

On currency markets Friday the euro was changing hands at $1.2383, down from $1.2391 in New York late Thursday.

Against the safe-haven Japanese currency, the euro dipped further to 98.88 yen, from 99.00 yen in US trade.

The dollar, meanwhile, was stable at 79.85 yen, down slightly from 79.88 yen in New York trade, after data Thursday showed US unemployment benefits tumbled last week, suggesting an easing in layoffs and beating analyst expectations.

Oil was lower in afternoon Asian trade, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, shedding $1.13 to $86.09 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August sliding $1.22 to $99.48.

Gold was worth $1,594.90 an ounce at 0855 GMT, compared with $1,618.30 late Thursday. - With ANC, Agence France-Presse