Asian Markets Down on European Discord

Asian markets mostly fell on Friday as a meeting between the eurozone's three biggest economies highlighted their differences on finding a solution to the region's debt crisis.

Traders remained nervous at the end of a week that saw fears over Europe deepen as the yields on Italian and Spanish bonds sat dangerously high and even Germany -- the bloc's pillar -- failed to sell all its bonds at auction.

Tokyo was flat, edging down 5.17 points to end at 8,160.01, while Sydney shed 1.48 percent, or 59.90 points, to end at 3,984.3 and Seoul closed 1.04 percent, or 18.66 points, lower at 1,776.40.

Hong Kong slipped 1.37 percent, or 245.62 points, to 17,689.48 and Shanghai closed 0.72 percent, or 17.33 points, lower at 2,380.22.

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy on Thursday met to discuss plans to address the two-year-old debt crisis in a bid to sooth markets, which have been hammered over fears of a collapse of the Eurozone and another global downturn.

Ahead of the talks French President Nicolas Sarkozy had called for the European Central Bank to act as a lender of last resort for the Eurozone and issue bonds, a move strongly rejected by Berlin.

After the talks Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Monti said they would move to reform EU governing treaties but insisted there would be no wider role for the ECB.

"It is difficult to reconcile the interests of individual nations," Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.

"It will likely take a while to get that done. Markets can be destabilized at every major redemption of sovereign bonds," he said.

The discord between the eurozone's leading powers weighed on sentiment and pushed the euro tumbling to $1.3255, its lowest in six weeks.

The euro was also at 102.62 yen, compared with 102.87 yen in London late Thursday, while the dollar edged up to 77.41 yen from 77.11.

New York markets were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving.

"Disappointment that officials continue to tinker with the trivial rather than consider the bold pushed risk appetites lower and increased the downside risks to the outlook for the European sovereign-debt crisis," said Besa Deda, chief economist at St. George Economics.

In Tokyo Olympus, which saw three-quarters of its stock price disappear amid an accounting scandal, soared 18 percent Friday on hopes for a change of management as ousted CEO Michael Woodford addresses the board.

Investors are also buying into the camera maker on confidence it will report its earnings by a December deadline and avoid being delisted.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January gained 47 cents to $96.64 a barrel in the afternoon.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery slipped 10 cents to $107.68.

Gold was trading at $1,677.35 an ounce by 0950 GMT, from $1,698.30 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore fell 1.24 percent, or 33.22 points, to 2,643.93.

Keppel Corp slipped 1.00 percent to Sg$8.91 and United Overseas Bank shed 1.20 percent to Sg$14.77.

-- Taipei finished 1.16 percent lower, or 79.87 points, at 6,784.52.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co fell 1.65 percent to Tw$71.6 while Hon Hai was 0.39 percent lower at Tw$75.7.

-- Manila ended 0.56 percent, or 23.94 points, higher at 4,261.59.

Property developer Megaworld slid 1.7 percent to 1.78 pesos while food firm Universal Robina advanced 1.9 percent to 51.45 pesos and San Miguel rose 0.2 percent to 128 pesos, while blue-chip Philippine Long Distance Telephone added 0.3 percent to 2,376 pesos.

-- Kuala Lumpur ended 1.14 percent, or 16.44 points, down at 1,431.55.

Telekom Malaysia fell 1.80 percent to 4.36 ringgit, while Malayan Banking shed 2.93 percent to 7.95 ringgit. Telecoms provider Maxis gained 0.93 percent to 5.42 ringgit.

-- Jakarta slipped 1.59 percent, or 58.84 points, to 3,637.19.

Bank Mandiri fell 3.7 percent to 6,450 rupiah, Bank Rakyat lost 1.5 percent to 6,600 rupiah and car maker Astra closed down 1.9 percent at 68,100 rupiah.

-- Wellington closed 0.89 percent, or 28.82 points, lower at 3,212.27.

-- Bangkok dropped 1.36 percent, or 13.32 points, to close at 967.18.

-- Mumbai gave up 1.03 percent, or 163.03 points, to 15,695.43.

Local retail stocks however rose after India said it had decided to open up the sector to global supermarket chains.

Pantaloon Retail jumped 16.67 percent to 234.05 rupees while Tata Group's Trent retail arm rose 8.4 percent to 1,058.45.

Source: Agence France Presse

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