Asian stocks fall amid Irish debt gloom

Asian stocks fall amid Irish debt gloom

Singapore: The euro, stocks and commodities fell on Tuesday as a bailout for debt-soaked Ireland failed to allay fears of a wider euro zone crisis, prompting investors to seek safety in the US dollar and Treasuries.

The euro had initially spiked on Monday on news of a European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout for Ireland, where a property bust has pushed the nation’s banks to the brink of collapse and blown a hole in the public finances.

But it swiftly reversed course as the coalition government in Dublin, deeply unpopular after presiding over the implosion of an economy dubbed the “Celtic Tiger" for its double-digit growth in the late 1990s, looked to be facing a struggle to pass an austerity budget that is a condition of the aid.

The single currency dived back below $1.36 on Tuesday as the Irish turmoil stoked fears that a crisis that has already engulfed Greece will spread to other indebted euro zone nations, with Portugal and Spain in nervous bond investors’ sights.

“They’ve addressed the Greek problem, they’re addressing the Irish problem, people are now questioning where is the next one ... the political turmoil in Ireland also doesn’t help," said Grant Turley, strategist at ANZ in Sydney.

Asian stock markets fell, following declines on Wall Street the previous day, with MSCI’s index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan shedding 1.2%. Tokyo markets were closed for a holiday.

The biggest stock market falls were in Hong Kong and Shanghai , down 1.7% and 2.3% respectively. Moves by the authorities to cool the property market continued to weigh in Hong Kong, where the property sub-index fell 2.6%.

On Monday US financial stocks had slid on fears of exposure to Europe’s debt woes and concerns about a broad insider trading probe. The KBW bank index fell 1.5 % and JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 2.3%.

The euro traded around $1.3575, having fallen as low as $1.3551 to surpass Monday’s session trough of $1.3574. The single currency had risen as high as $1.3786 on Monday.

“The fact that sentiment turned so quickly, that the Irish government is heading towards an election and that Moody’s talked about downgrading Ireland are all not helping," said Greg Gibbs, strategist at RBS.

“It reveals a lack of underlying demand for European sovereign and financial assets and point to the downside risk for the euro."

Against the yen, the euro slipped to around 113.10 from two-week highs near 115.0 yen.

The dollar rose 0.2% against a basket of currencies and bought ¥83.35 , down a little from Monday’s high.

A stronger dollar often weighs on commodity markets, making assets priced in the US currency more expensive for holders of other currencies.

US crude oil futures lost 34 cents, or around 0.4 %, to trade at $81.40 a barrel, and gold and copper were also weaker.

US Treasuries, traditionally regarded by investors as the safest of asset, remained in demand, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note creeping lower.