Asian stocks fall as Wall Street declines

Asian stock markets slipped Monday as worries about American consumers undermined confidence in the recovery of the world’s largest economy.

Most markets were lower by less than 1 percent after a sharp decline on Wall Street Friday. Oil prices extended a losing streak, while the dollar gained against the yen and fell against the euro.

Concerns about the sustainability of the U.S. economic turnaround troubled investors following a worse-than-expected report that showed consumer sentiment was still sluggish amid anemic growth and rising job losses.

Adding to fears about the U.S. economy and financial system was a warning from JPMorgan, contained in its recent quarterly results, that it was too soon to say that losses on home mortgages and other loans have peaked.

Investors have gotten used to stronger quarterly profits of late as the economy bounces back from the recession’s bottom, but results from JPMorgan and other companies may spell more disappointment this earnings season, analysts said.

“After two quarters of above-consensus results, market expectations are high and may be difficult to match,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist for SJS Markets in Hong Kong. “Which is likely to make investors more cautious as the earnings season unfolds.”

Japanese shares led Asia’s declines, with the Nikkei 225 stock average off 163.12 points, or 1.5 percent, at 10,818.98. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 71.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,582.44.

Elsewhere, Shanghai’s index was off 0.1 percent and Taiwan’s market lost 0.1 percent.

But several markets fared better, with South Korea’s Kospi gaining 0.2 percent to 1,705.63 and India’s benchmark up 0.7 percent to 17,674.78. Australia’s stock measure added 0.2 percent.

Last Friday on Wall Street, the Dow fell 100.90, or 0.9 percent, to 10,609.65, the biggest drop since it lost 120 points on the final day of 2009. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12.43, or 1.1 percent, to 1,136.03, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 28.75, or 1.2 percent, to 2,287.99.

Wall Street futures pointed to a higher open in the U.S. Monday.

Oil fell for a sixth day, with benchmark crude for February delivery shedding 24 cents to $77.76. On Friday, the contract slid $1.39 to settle at $78. The price was down $4.75 for the week after declining for five straight days.

The dollar slipped against the 91.02 yen from 90.75 yen. The euro climbed to $1.4384 from $1.4340.

Source: AP

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