Singapore: Asian stock markets slid on Friday as worries about the euro zone prompted more investors to cut risky positions, but trading was choppy as the euro edged higher and the Australian dollar bounced back from a vicious two-day selloff.
In Asian trade, the euro firmed to $1.2540 from $1.2507 late in New York on Thursday when it went as high as $1.2598. It got a boost on Thursday, helped by its gains versus the Swiss franc and speculation European monetary officials might intervene to prop up the single currency.
On the year, however, the euro is down over 12% against the dollar. Despite Thursday’s rise, sentiment on the currency remains decidedly negative, with investors concerned about a seeming lack of unity among euro zone leaders in addressing the debt crisis.
Japan’s Nikkei average fell as much as 3.2% to 9,710.92, a five-month month-low. The index has lost over 5.3% since the start of the week, when renewed worries about the euro zone began.
“Investors are shifting toward cash as you can see from such moves as investors were even selling gold yesterday,” said Masaru Hamasaki, a senior strategist at Toyota Asset Management. “There’s uncertainty over the extent of the fallout from the crisis, such as whether it would end up leading to a halt in financial trades like after the Lehman shock.”
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan was down 1.07%.
The Australian dollar bounced to $0.8240/45 from 10-month lows of $0.8075 after talk of central bank intervention sparked short-covering. The currency had fallen 3% on Thursday.
Spot gold prices fell about percent to $1170.80 an ounce as investors remained nervous about the turmoil on financial markets.
US crude futures fell below $70 a barrel on fears that crude demand could suffer because of Europe’s debt crisis. Nymex crude for July delivery was down almost 1% at $69.90 a barrel by 0210 GMT.