Asia shares mixed on eurozone jitters

Hong Kong - Asian markets were mixed while the safe-haven yen edged up on Friday following a sell-off on Wall Street and in Europe, as fears over eurozone debt resurfaced with a payment crisis at Portugal's biggest listed bank.

News that the parent of Banco Espirito Santo had covered up a $1.8bn hole in its accounts fanned worries of a return to the debt crisis that wracked Europe just three years ago.

Tokyo fell 0.34%, or 52.43 points, to 15 164.04 and Seoul eased 0.70%, or 14.10 points, to 1 988.74, while Sydney added 0.41%, or 22.4 points, to close at 5 486.8.

Shanghai put on 0.42%, or 8.62 points, to 2 046.96 while Hong Kong ended flat, dipping 5.54 points to 23 233.45.

Bangkok is closed for a public holiday.

US and European shares sank on Thursday as it emerged that Espirito Santo International, the bank's holding firm, had failed to make payments on some short-term debt.

Trading in the bank's shares were suspended in Lisbon on Thursday after its shares plummeted 17.24%.

The crisis comes less than two months after Portugal exited a three-year, $106bn international bailout which had helped the government avert a default.

It also revived memories of the eurozone sovereign and banking debt crisis of 2011 that saw a number of nations go to the wall.

"Is this just an isolated event or is it the first chink in the chain to fire contagion fears?" said IG Markets strategist, Evan Lucas, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

"These issues have been simmering and the data has suggested that normal setting in these economies is still a long way off."

Fears push dealers in yen

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.42%, the S&P 500 lost 0.41% and Nasdaq shed 0.52%.

Those losses followed a sell-off in Europe, where London, Frankfurt and Paris all saw hefty losses, while shares in Lisbon dived more than 4%.

Sentiment was already bad in Europe after France and Italy posted weak industrial output data, adding to disappointing figures from Germany and Britain.

The yen benefited from the uncertainty fuelled by the latest crisis.

In later trade the dollar bought ¥101.28 against ¥101.32 in New York, while the euro was at ¥137.82 compared with ¥137.88. That compares with ¥101.50 and ¥138.50 on Thursday in Asia.

The single currency also fetched $1.3608 against $1.3609 in US trade.

Investors are also looking ahead to the release next week of Chinese growth data, hoping for a pick-up in the world's number two economy following some upbeat indicators recently.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery eased 52 cents to $102.41 while Brent crude was down 67c at $108.00 in afternoon trade.

Gold fetched $1,335.62 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared with $1,341.45 late Thursday.

In other markets

- Mumbai fell 1.37% to end at 25 024.35 points.

Jain Irrigation slid 11.51% to 102.65 rupees, while Unitech fell 10.68% to 25.10 rupees.

- Jakarta ended down 1.28%, or 65.41 points, at 5 032.60.

Palm oil producer Astra Agro Lestari fell 2.39% to 26 500 rupiah, while cement producer Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa rose 0.88% to 25 725 rupiah.

- Kuala Lumpur lost 0.50%, or 9.47 points, to 1 883.15.

Plantation giant IOI fell 1.5% to 5.14 ringgit, while Telekom Malaysia shed 1.3% to 6.28 ringgit. IHH Healthcare Bhd gained 0.9% to 4.74 ringgit.

- Manila closed 0.52% lower, or 36.12 points, at 6 901.09.

Alliance Global Group eased 3.69% to 28.70 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone lost 0.27% to 3 000 pesos.

- Singapore rose 0.74%, or 24.23 points, to close at 3 293.73.

Casino operator Genting Singapore added 0.38% to finish at Sg$1.33 and beer brewer Thai Beverage climbed 0.81% to 63 cents.

- Taipei slipped 0.72%, or 69.28 points, to 9 495.84.

Hon Hai rose 0.46% to Tw$109.0 while smartphone maker HTC fell 1.49% to Tw$132.5.

- Wellington fell 0.53%, or 27.42 points, to 5 100.59, with Air New Zealand off 2.17% at NZ$2.03 and Fletcher Building slipping 0.56% to NZ$8.85.

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