Stocks slide on mounting worries over QE exit

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 | Finance News

TOKYO (AP) — Stock markets slid Tuesday in Asia, as Japan's central bank ended a policy meeting with no fresh stimulus or moves to curb bond market volatility and attention shifted to possible policy changes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Japan's Nikkei stock index fell 1.5 percent to close at 13,317.62, a day after soaring 4.9 percent following an upward revision of first quarter economic growth data. South Korea's KOSPI dropped 0.6 percent, to 1,920.68.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares dropped 0.6 percent to 6,365.04 in early trading, while Germany's DAX fell 0.6 percent to 8,255.33. The CAC-40 in France shed 0.7 percent to 3,839.37. Stocks in New York also appeared headed for losses, with Dow Jones industrial futures shedding 0.3 percent to 15,188. S&P 500 futures lost 0.3 percent to 1,636.70.

Over recent weeks, investors have grown fearful that the Federal Reserve will reduce the amount of financial assets it buys in the markets — so-called tapering. This is prompting a flight away from the relatively high risks of emerging market shares, which accelerated in the afternoon session.

Uncertainty over mainland China's resilience further weighed on sentiment following the weekend release of discouraging data for the world's second-largest economy. With China's markets closed until Thursday for a national holiday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index has traded in a limited range, falling 1.2 percent Tuesday to 21,354.66.

"During the holiday, the data from China was not so good. It was below market expectations, so investors are waiting," said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities.

A statement issued by the Bank of Japan at midday called for no major policy changes but reiterated its expectation for a moderate recovery in coming months, noting an improvement in exports and resilient demand in Japan.

The central bank offered no new monetary easing or measures to curb volatility in government bond prices that has alarmed some in recent weeks.

Regionally, an overnight decline on Wall Street weighed on sentiment, while investors in Hong Kong awaited the reopening of China's markets on Thursday, following the Dragon Boat festival.

Shares fell in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore but rose in Australia.

A scaling back of asset purchases by the Fed looks increasingly likely given the improved state of the U.S. economy. That could stem the flood of cash that has been flooding into emerging markets and expectations of such a shift have taken some the steam out of recent rallies across the region.

"While we don't expect the Fed to raise rates until mid-2015 at the earliest, we think it could start tapering its asset purchases as early as September this year," Capital Economics said in a commentary Tuesday.

A decision by the Standard & Poor's ratings agency to raise its outlook Monday for its credit rating on the U.S. government's long-term debt did little to boost spirits; Wall Street stocks still ended lower.

In currency dealings, the euro rose to $1.380 from $1.3261 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.03 yen from 98.70 yen.

Oil prices fell 41 cents at $95.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 26 cents to close at $95.77 per barrel on the Nymex on Monday.

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