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Dublin: 14°C Thursday 17 June 2021

Asian markets fall on Greek debt fears as eurozone inflation hits 3 per cent

The eurozone inflation jump suggests the ECB may hold off on cutting interest rates this week.

A trader at the foreign exchange room of the Korean Exchange Bank in Seoul reacts to Friday's trading.
A trader at the foreign exchange room of the Korean Exchange Bank in Seoul reacts to Friday's trading.
Image: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man/PA

ASIAN MARKETS tumbled sharply in early trading today, hurt by data suggesting debt-strapped Greece’s attempts at austerity were not yielding results and a weakening economic picture in Europe.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 2.3 per cent to 8,503.88, with a government survey showing an improvement in business confidence among Japanese manufacturers doing little to nudge markets back to life. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 4.1 per cent to 16,866.76. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 fell 2.2 per cent to 3,921.90.

Markets in mainland China and South Korea were closed for national holidays.

Eurozone inflation

A deeper-than-expected recession prevented Greece from meeting this year’s deficit target of 7.8 per cent, the government said over the weekend. Greece’s deficit for 2011-2012 is expected to reach 8.5 per cent of gross domestic product, or €18.69 billion.

Meanwhile, inflation jumped to a startling 3 per cent in September in the 17 countries that use the euro. The increase was a surprise that makes it less likely the European Central Bank will cut interest rates this week to head off a possible recession.

The rate reported Friday from the European Union’s statistics agency was the highest since October 2008 and represented a big increase from August’s 2.5 per cent.

The ECB, the chief monetary authority for the euro countries, has come under pressure to cut interest rates soon to ward off mounting signs of recession in the eurozone economy.

Oil price down

Benchmark oil for November delivery fell 69 cents to $78.51 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The contract closed down $2.94, or 3.6 per cent, to end the day at $79.20 per barrel in New York. Prices haven’t finished that low since 29 September 2010. Crude peaked near $114 a barrel in May of this year but has since fallen 31 per cent as worries grow about the global economy.

Ministers scramble to Luxembourg as Greece admits it will miss bailout targets >

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Associated Press

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