Tokyo: Stop-loss selling hammered the euro to a one-year low on Friday on heightened speculation Greece would have to seek a bailout to avoid default, while Asian shares fell, dragged down by resource and financial stocks.
In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was expected to open up 0.6%, Germany’s DAX to rise as much as 0.6% and France’s CAC-40 to gain 0.3%.
“The view that the Greece debt situation will not likely improve over the short-term is one of the key issues pressuring the market today,” said Kwak Joong-bo, a market analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities in Seoul.
Greece’s budget gap last year was worse than feared at 13.6% of GDP, the European Union’s statistics office revealed on Thursday, and Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its rating of Greek government debt.
“The market is already expecting positive earnings figures from key companies next week, which has fueled its recent rally. But upward momentum has turned weak as investors seek out other positives,” Kwak added.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5%. Lacklustre commodity prices hit raw materials stocks, while Hong Kong dropped 0.8%, weighed down by banks and property stocks.
The MSCI index has lost 1.6% so far this week, but is up 1.2% on the month.
Korean stocks briefly touched a 22-month high after forecast-beating results from several major firms, including Hyundai Motor and LG Display, before turning down 0.1% as shipyards dented the gains.
The euro was an early casualty, hammered down more than half a percent almost to $1.3200, its weakest level since last April, and edging down towards its lowest level in eight months against the British pound at 86.09 pence.
Chinese developer Glorious Property put on hold a plan to issue dollar bonds, a source close to the deal said, and bankers said more issues could be postponed as fallout from Greece’s debt crisis may prompt investors to seek higher yields.
“I won’t be surprised if I hear more deals being postponed,” a banker involved in recent deals said.
“Clearly, Greece is having a short-term impact on the market and people are not happy with all this volatility.”
A Reuters poll of around 50 economists gave a median 80% chance that Greece would turn to its euro zone partners in the next two months and activate its aid package.
They gave a roughly one-in-four chance that Greece would default on its debt in the next five years.
Asian Sovereign credits hold well
Asian sovereign credits, however, were holding up well, although the cost of insuring Thailand’s debt against default through credit default swaps climbed to its highest in more than two months at 120/125 basis points.
Anti-government protests in Bangkok claimed three more lives on Thursday and analysts warned the political tension could result in credit downgrades and slower growth.
The euro crept back to $1.3235, although it was still down 0.5% on the day. Its broad slide helped the dollar index, a basket of six major currencies, rise 0.5% to 88.991 and briefly touch its highest level since late March.
The dollar also got a general boost from a fall in US jobless claims and rise in home sales, bolstering the view that the economy is improving.
Hong Kong and China were weighed down by bank and property shares after new signals that the Chinese government intends to take further action to curb property speculation.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei lost 0.3% in caution that Greece’s troubles could curb risk appetite, but some shares gained after a range of companies lifted their forecasts for corporate earnings, which move into higher gear next week.
Furukawa Electric Co Ltd rose 1.3% after hiking its operating profit estimate to ¥19.5 billion ($2.1 million) from ¥15 billion, citing growth across a broad range of products including semiconductors and electronics.
Starmine data shows 67% of the companies globally that have reported first-quarter earnings so far have met or exceeded expectations. The vast majority of firms covered are yet to report their earnings.
Australia’s benchmark index fell 0.5%, touching a three-week low.
Gold prices eased after slipping 0.4% fall the previous day. Spot gold was quoted at $1,138.50.
US crude futures were steady at a little under $84 a barrel.