HONG KONG: – Asian markets were mostly lower Wednesday following a sell-off in New York and Europe, with fears about Greece returning to haunt dealers, while oil prices resumed their downward spiral after a slight uptick.
Shanghai’s benchmark index recovered slightly after slumping more than five percent Tuesday — its heaviest loss in five years — although another round of weak inflation data capped gains.
Tokyo fell 1.38 percent, taking another hit from further strengthening of the yen, while Shanghai edged up 0.24 percent. Sydney shed 0.68 percent, Seoul eased 0.67 percent and Hong Kong was flat.
Tuesday’s losses in Asia, which followed a week-long rally, spread to European and US markets and were exacerbated by news that Greece had brought forward a presidential election, raising worries of fresh political instability.
Members of parliament agreed to hold a poll to replace President Karolos Papoulias on December 17 instead of February, when it was due.
The election is a key test for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who will be forced to call snap general elections if his candidate fails to garner enough support.
Samaras said he brought it forward to clear “clouds of political instability in Greece and political uncertainty over Greece abroad”.
Analysts warned the uncertainty could stall Greece’s fiscal reforms that are required as part of its bailout deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Greek stocks plunged 12.8 percent — the largest one-day drop in 27 years — as investors feared a return to the dark days of the eurozone debt crisis that saw Athens almost leave the currency bloc.
The unease spooked dealers across the Atlantic, although initial sharp losses were pared by the end of trade. The Dow fell 0.29 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.02 percent but the Nasdaq added 0.54 percent.