Bangkok: Positive economic data out of the US failed to provide a boost to stocks in Asia on Friday, as worries mounted that Greece will be forced to default on its debt.
Oil prices hovered above $95 a barrel while the dollar slipped against the euro and the yen. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was marginally lower at 9,410.68. South Korea’s Kospi index drooped 0.8% to 2,029.68, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.4% to 21,850.58.
Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, mainland China and Malaysia were also lower. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose, however, by 0.2% to 4,490.10. Shares in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines were also higher.
Markets dipped because of fears of a Greek default, which could push up borrowing costs elsewhere, leading to crises in other indebted countries, and hurt the European banks that hold a lot of Greek bonds.
On Wall Street on Thursday, better-than-expected reports on home building and jobs pushed two of the three major stock indexes higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.5% to close at 11,961.52.
The S&P 500 rose 0.2% percent to 1,267.64. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.3% to 2,623.70.
The pace of new home construction quickened last month and the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits fell last week to 414,000, more of an improvement than economists expected. Weekly applications for unemployment have been over 400,000 since April, a rate that suggests job growth is still slow.
Not all the economic news was positive. A survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that manufacturing slowed in that region, one day after a similar report found that manufacturing was slowing in the New York area.
A series of weaker economic indicators over the past two months have led some analysts to trim their expectations for the year. Benchmark crude for July delivery rose 23 cents to $95.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract settled at $94.95 per barrel on the Nymex on Thursday. The euro recovered slightly to $1.4173 from $1.4141 late Thursday in New York. The dollar dropped to ¥80.62 from ¥80.78.