| GEO Business|
Asian shares mixed on economic pessimism
| Updated at: 0916 PST, Monday, August 23, 2010|
TOKYO: Asian markets were mixed Monday as pessimism about the world economy deepened while Australian stocks took in stride the likelihood of a weak minority government following weekend elections.
The lackluster showing in Asia came after Wall Street closed lower on Friday with sentiment in the doldrums because of the recent string of indicators that show the world's biggest economy is slowing.
Shares in Australia were marginally lower after national elections on Saturday gave neither of the major political parties an outright majority in parliament.
The ruling Labour Party and the opposition Liberal Party-led coalition are now lobbying for the support of independent lawmakers to try to stitch together the nation's first minority government since World War II.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.4 point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 4,432.30 while the Australian dollar dropped about 0.2 percent against the U.S. dollar.
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.4 percent to 9,141.01 as a strong yen continued to drag sentiment. As expected, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa discussed on the telephone recent foreign exchange developments, according to Kyodo news agency.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.4 percent to 20,900.51 while Seoul's Kospi rose 0.1 percent to 1,776.39 and the Shanghai Composite index added less than 0.1 percent to 2,643.48.
In Sydney trade some commodity stocks advanced on hopes that a proposed mining profits tax would be dropped if the opposition Liberal Party forms the new government. Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. added 0.9 percent, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 1.2 percent.
In the U.S. on Friday investors found little reason to wade back into stocks. There were no reports to offset Thursday's disappointing news that growth in the domestic economy continues to slow.
The Dow fell 57.59, or 0.6 percent, to 10,213.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.94, or 0.4 percent, to 1,071.69, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.81, or 0.04 percent, to 2,179.76.
Benchmark crude for October delivery was up 24 cents at $74.06 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 97 cents to settle at $73.82 a barrel on Friday.
In currencies, the dollar fell to 85.35 yen from 85.53 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.2712 from $1.2709.