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Asian stock markets mixed after Europe bank worries, strong yen stifle enthusiasm
BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stock markets were mixed early Thursday, following flat trading on Wall Street as renewed worries over Europe's banking system and a strong yen weighed on investor sentiment.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 percent to 8,514.03, while South Korea's Kospi index gained 0.2 percent to 1,870.96. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent to 18,787.21. Australia's S&P ASX 200 fell 1.2 percent at 4,139.70.
Benchmarks in Singapore and Taiwan were higher while those in Malaysia and New Zealand were lower.
In Tokyo, the yen's rise against the euro elicited fears of more pain ahead for Japanese exporters. The euro sank to 98.71 yen on Monday in European trading, which Japan's Kyodo News said was an 11-year low. The euro remained under selling pressure as it hovered around 99.72 yen Thursday.
On Wednesday, European markets declined after another increase in Italy's borrowing costs renewed worries about the continent's efforts to restore confidence in its debt-hobbled governments. Additionally, UniCredit ' Italy's biggest bank ' said it would offer stock at a 69 percent discount to raise cash. The size of the discount escalated worries about the state of Europe's banking sector.
Stocks barely budged in the U.S. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.2 percent to close at 12,418.42. The Dow opened the year Tuesday with a 180-point gain that brought it to its highest level since July.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up less than 0.1 percent to close at 1,277.30. The Nasdaq fell marginally to 2,648.36.
Benchmark oil for February delivery fell 35 cents to $102.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 26 cents to end at $103.22 per barrel on the Nymex on Wednesday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2930 from $1.2938 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar slipped to 76.72 yen from 76.75 yen.