Asia shares mostly higher, Euro holds up with Greece in focus


HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets were mostly higher in early trade Wednesday, brushing off another sell-off on Wall Street, although Shanghai retreated after racking up more than four percent in the previous two sessions.

The euro managed to squeeze out small gains as traders nervously track Greece s drawn-out bailout reform talks with its creditors.

Sydney added 0.43 percent and Seoul gained 0.76 percent, while Tokyo was marginally higher, Singapore put on 0.50 percent and Taipei rose 0.33 percent.

Shanghai gave back 0.21 percent and Hong Kong dipped 0.10 percent.

US shares suffered a second successive sell-off Tuesday as investors were spooked by rising US Treasury yields, which raised questions about confidence in the US economy.

The pullback from US sovereign debt also comes after some weak indicators, including anaemic wage growth, a tepid manufacturing sector and with economic growth at a weak 0.2 percent annual rate.

The Dow sank 0.21 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.30 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.35 percent.

In Shanghai the benchmark index suffered from profit-taking after surging on Monday and Tuesday in reaction to theChinese central bank s decision at the weekend to cut interest rates again.

The move, the third since November, is the latest attempt by authorities to kickstart growth in the Asian powerhouse.

Focus now turns to the release later in the day of key data on retail sales, government investment and industrial output, the latest indicators to give an idea about the state of the economy.

On currency markets the dollar bought 119.86 yen against 119.90 yen in New York late Tuesday.

The euro maintained its strength against the dollar and yen as Greece s leaders struggles to agree an overhaul of its bailout conditions with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The single currency was at $1.1220 and 134.47 yen against $1.1213 and 134.44 yen.

There was relief at the start of the week when it emerged Athens had managed to pay 750 million euros due to the IMF, helping it avoid a default, which could have led to its ejection from the eurozone.

However, it is still negotiating with creditors to change its bailout terms and unlock billions more in much needed cash to service other debts while Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis his country could run out of cash within two weeks if no deal is reached.

Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery gained 40 cents to $61.16 while Brent crude for June rose 19 cents to $67.05.

Gold fetched $1,191.90 from $1,184.73 late Tuesday.



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