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Asian shares spooked by Cyprus bailout details

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Tue, Mar 26, 2013 05:32 hrs

By Chikako Mogi

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares edged lower and the euro wobbled on Tuesday as investors worried about potential future fallout from the Cyprus bailout scheme, after initial rallies on the last-minute rescue opened the way to book some profit.

European markets were seen rebounding, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX likely to open as much as 0.3 percent higher.

Benchmark indices in Spain and Italy were seen to open 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent higher, respectively.

U.S. stock futures were up 0.2 percent to point to a slightly firmer Wall Street start.

"The market had been positioned for a good result on Cyprus, they got it and now there's profit taking," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

"Bearing in mind that a crisis has been averted, the overall situation is just a reminder of the risk involved in Europe. The rescue process was fraught with politics and a risk that it would fall over, and people were contemplating that this morning," he said.

Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.7 percent, after closing up 1.7 percent the day before.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan pared some of its earlier losses to inch down 0.1 percent, after the Cyprus deal buoyed markets up by more than 1 percent on Monday.

The pan-Asia materials sector led the declines with a 0.8 percent drop, led by a loss of 0.7 percent in Australian shares as investors sold miners and financials in response to weaker metal prices and euro zone jitters.

Shanghai shares slid 1.9 percent and Hong Kong stocks fell 0.6 percent.

China shares were headed for their worst loss in three weeks, with brokerages hit by fears of more fund raising in the sector, while mid-sized banks were sold on worries about tighter mortgage lending restrictions.

South Korean shares bucked the downtrend with a 0.4 percent gain and Southeast Asian bourses also defied the generally cautious mood and advanced, helping to limit losses for the whole region.

Revived pressure on the euro helped nudge up the dollar index, measured against a basket of major currencies, towards a 7-1/2-month peak of 83.166 set earlier this month.

The euro steadied at $1.2864, after sliding more than 1 percent against the dollar and hitting a four-month low of $1.28295 on Monday. The single currency closed below its 200-day moving average of around $1.2880 on Monday for the first time since November.

Traders said the euro was supported by short-covering and repatriation before the end of the first quarter, but capped at $1.3 on renewed concerns about the health of euro zone's financial system. The euro hit a high of $1.3050 on Monday.

Against the yen, the dollar was steady at 94.17, having touched a low of 93.53 yen on Monday, barely above a recent low of 93.45 seen earlier this month.

PAINFUL PRECEDENT?

Large, uninsured depositors and bondholders will bear heavy losses in the Cyprus bailout, which Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, said represented a new template for euro zone and other countries which may have to restructure their banking sectors.

Banks in Cyprus will remain closed until Thursday and even then be subject to capital controls to prevent a run on deposits.

Initial rallies in global equities and the euro fizzled after his remarks, as they raised the prospect of shifting more risk to depositors and stakeholders in future.

While the bailout will avert collapse of the Cypriot banking system and keep Cyprus within the euro zone, the agreement may have set a painful precedent for the region.

"The design of the plan is setting market sentiment. Attention is put into the details and any actual contagion risk out of that plan, so overall sentiment is a little bit subdued, but not collapsing," said Frances Cheung, senior strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

Better U.S. data pointing to a continued recovery in the world's largest economy provided some comfort to the market, and while investors are growing accustomed to Europeans scrambling to find last-minute solutions to avert a crisis, sentiment will not sour drastically as long as there is no collapse in the euro zone economy, she added.

In Japan, new central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda, who took over last week, said buying longer-dated debt was a policy option to pursue monetary easing.

His comments sent benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yields down as low as 0.525 percent, its lowest level since June 2003. The 10-year yield has hit the near-decade low for a fourth straight day.

London copper was barely changed at $7,617.50 a tonne while spot gold eased 0.2 percent, holding barely above $1,600 an ounce as safe-haven demand ebbed after Cyprus clinched the rescue, but concerns about the euro zone's banking system checked losses.

U.S. crude futures steadied around $94.84 a barrel and Brent also held steady at $108.21.

(Additional reporting by Thuy Ong in Sydney and Clement Tan in Hong Kong; Editing by Eric Meijer & Kim Coghill)




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