AP News

Global growth fears keep Asia stocks in check

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets were held in check Tuesday by a host of concerns about the global economy.

Worries about the state of the world economy worsened Monday when Germany's Ifo index of business confidence fell for a fifth consecutive month, evidence that even Europe's largest and so far strongest economy is suffering headwinds.

Stocks have risen in recent weeks as the U.S. Federal Reserve and monetary authorities in other major economies announced measures to support growth. The European Central Bank unveiled a new plan to restore investor confidence in the government finances of the 17 countries that use the euro.

The most recent indicators, however, suggest the global economy is still slowing down.

"The near term outlook is likely to remain one of caution until some progress in the Eurozone is in evidence. However, growth concerns suggest any improvement in sentiment will be tenuous at best," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.3 percent to 9,096.55 after a lower open. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent to 20,705.97. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.3 percent to 1,998.25. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2 percent to 4,377.70.

Benchmarks in Singapore, mainland China and New Zealand rose. Taiwan's fell.

Analysts say Europe's debt crisis will remain a key concern. Spain is due to unveil a new series of cost-cutting measures and structural reforms that could pave the way for a demand for financial aid from its fellow eurozone countries. Spanish stock and bond markets have been volatile in recent days as hopes that Madrid will apply for aid alternated with concern that it was delaying the move.

Wall Street closed lower Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.2 percent to 13,558.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 0.2 percent to 1,459.89. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 0.6 percent to 3,160.78.

In currency markets, the euro rose to $1.2947 from $1.2935 in late trading Monday while the dollar was slightly down at 77.84 yen from 77.86 yen.

Benchmark crude for November delivery was up 35 cents to $92.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 96 cents to settle at $91.93 on Monday.

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