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Asian stock markets head lower after Moody's downgrades Japan credit
BANGKOK (AP) ' Asian stock markets gave up early gains Wednesday after Moody's Investors Service downgraded Japan's credit rating.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2 percent to 8,714.58 after opening higher. South Korea's Kospi index dropped 1.1 percent to 1,756.81 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.8 percent to 19,725.73.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.6 percent up at 4,197. Shares in mainland China and New Zealand were also higher.
Moody's Investors Service downgraded Japan's government bond rating to Aa3 from Aa2 late Tuesday. The new rating is three notches below Moody's top Aaa rating.
The downgrade puts Moody's Japan rating in line with other major agencies. Both Standard & Poor's and Fitch rate Japan AA-, three notches below their top AAA ratings.
In May, Moody's warned it could downgrade Japan after the world's No. 3 economy slipped back into recession in the first quarter due to tumbling output and exports following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
In New York on Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 322 points, following modest gains Monday. Not even an earthquake on the U.S. East Coast on Tuesday afternoon could halt its advance. The Dow dipped about 60 points shortly after the quake hit but soon recovered and soared higher in the last two hours of trading.
Oil rose above $85 per barrel Tuesday following reports of better-than-expected manufacturing activity in China and Europe. Benchmark oil for September delivery was 21 cents higher at $85.65 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract rose $1.02 to settle at $85.44 per barrel on Tuesday in New York.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.4405 from $1.4423 in late trading Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 76.77 yen from 76.66 Japanese yen