Asian markets slip on US debt row, France warning

Asian markets slip on US debt row, France warning

Hong Kong: Asian markets mostly slipped on Tuesday with growing concerns over France’s credit rating and after a US committee charged with finding a deal to cut the nation’s huge deficit said it had failed.

In early trade Tokyo was 0.13% off, Shanghai was 0.36% down, Sydney gave up 0.47% and Hong Kong shed 0.13%, while Seoul gained 0.24%.

In Washington Monday the 12-member bipartisan “supercommittee" said it was unable to meet its mission of cutting the US deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

Many had expected the panel -- set up in August as part of a last-minute deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a devastating default -- to fail due to political feuds over tax hikes on the rich and cuts to social spending.

“Investors are seeing this situation as further evidence that ‘the lights are on but no one’s at home´ when it comes to political leadership of the world’s major economies," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“The changed circumstances of recent years require constructive action to foster economic growth and reduce debt over time.

“However, governments are finding it difficult to overcome divergent philosophies and sectional interests to achieve practical solutions," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

While investors continue to fret about dangerously high bond yields in Spain and Italy, Moody’s added to the sense of fear by issuing a warning about France’s AAA credit rating.

An increase in Paris’s borrowing costs, slowing growth and the eurozone debt crisis was posing a threat to the country’s top-notch status, the agency said.

France pays almost twice as much to borrow on the bond markets as Germany, it pointed out, despite the government slashing spending and tightening up on tax revenues in an effort to stabilize its strained public finances.

However, Moody’s said France’s rating was safe for the moment.

The euro was at $1.3495 against the dollar, from $1.3490 late Monday in New York, and at 104.09 against the yen, from 103.75.

The dollar was at ¥77.12, from ¥76.90.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, gained a cent to $96.93 per barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery in January advanced 12 cents to $107.00.