The Korea Herald


Asian stock markets sink after US credit downgrade


Published : Aug. 8, 2011 - 15:54

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BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stocks nose-dived Monday as the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating jolted the global financial system, reinforcing fears that the world economy is weakening.

Oil prices extended recent sharp losses, trading below $84 a barrel on expectations that weaker global growth will crimp demand for crude. The dollar was lower against the yen and the euro.

(Yonhap News) (Yonhap News)

Among the major Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 3.8 percent to 20,145.82 and South Korea's Kospi was down 3.8 percent to 1,869.45 after briefly diving nearly 7 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 2.2 percent to 9,097.56.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street when it opens Monday. Dow futures were off 260 points, or 2.3 percent, at 11,142 and broader S&P 500 futures shed 31.30 points, or 2.6 percent, to 1,166.10.

``It's not Armaggedon, but it feels like it,'' said Hong Kong-based analyst Francis Lun, adding that he foresees the territory's Hang Seng index to sink below 19,000 _ a decline of a further 5 percent _ before making any kind of comeback.

Banking shares were tainted by fears the sector could face heavy losses as the sovereign debt crisis in Europe continued to brew. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's biggest bank by market value, fell 4.2 percent. Port operators _ whose lifeblood of imports and exports would be at risk if the global economy goes bust _ were stung badly. Hong Kong-listed China Shipping Container Lines Co. dropped 9.7 percent.

Meanwhile, a strengthening yen, which makes Japanese products more expensive when they are sent overseas, slammed the country's powerhouse export sector. Hitachi Corp. dropped 4 percent. Sony was 3.8 percent down. Mazda Motor Corp. lost 3.1 percent.

Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. sovereign credit rating to AA+ from the top-notch AAA, announced late Friday, was yet another blow to confidence in the struggling U.S. economy. It adds to growing fears that the world's No. 1 economy may be headed back into recession.

Those anxieties have been compounded by signs that Europe's government debt crisis is threatening to engulf bigger economies such as Italy and Spain.

David Cohen of Action Economics in Singapore said the downgrade Friday did not come as a surprise, given the warnings issued by the agency weeks in advance _ but that it may serve as a wake-up call for leaders to take action.

``As long as people can calm down quickly enough, it need not become another global financial crisis,'' Cohen said.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 2.9 percent to 3,986.10. Singapore's benchmark dived 4.7 percent, Taiwan's market slid 3.8 percent and China's Shanghai Composite shed 3.6 percent.

``I think it's still a matter of people being cautious given they don't really know how wildly these overseas markets will respond,'' Westpac Banking Corp. chief economist Bill Evans told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

``I would expect people will take the risk off the table at the moment waiting for some more clarity in those two big issues: how will the U.S. respond to the downgrade and will the Europeans settle down these concerns in Europe?'' he said.

Seeking to avert panic spreading across financial markets, finance officials from the Group of Seven industrial countries issued a joint statement late Sunday saying they were committed to taking all necessary measures to support financial stability and growth.

The G-7 statement came after the group held an emergency conference call to discuss the debt crisis in Europe and market prospects following the announcement of the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

The European Central Bank, meanwhile, said it will ``actively implement'' a bond-purchase program that could boost Spanish and Italian bonds and drive down interest yields that threaten those countries with financial disaster.

The burst of activity underscored how government debt levels in Europe and the U.S. have unsettled financial markets _ and sharpened fears that debt troubles could derail the global recovery from the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Anticipation ahead of the release later this week of China's consumer price index for July was also fraying investor nerves. Inflation soared to a three-year high of 6.4 percent in June and is politically dangerous for the ruling communists because it can fuel unrest.

The Dow fell 5.8 percent last week amid dour U.S. economic news. It plunged 513 points on Thursday alone, the worst day for the Dow since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008.

Benchmark oil for September delivery was down $3.31 to $83.57 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose 25 cents to settle at $86.88 on Friday.

In London, Brent crude was down $3.35 at $106.02 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

In currencies, the dollar weakened to 77.77 yen from 78.34 yen late Friday in New York. The euro rose to $1.4364 from $1.4265.


증시 패닉..`검은 월요일'

아시아 증시가 8일 다시 패닉(공황) 상태에 빠졌다.

2% 안팎의 하락세로 출발한 아시아 증시는 장 초반 낙폭을 만회하는 듯 했으나 오후 급매물이 쏟아지며 폭락세로 돌아섰다.

특히 한국 증시는 코스닥이 10% 이상 폭락하면서 거래를 잠시 중단하는 `서킷 브레이커'가 발동되는 등 낙폭을 크게 키워 주변 아시아증시의 폭발 도미노를 유발했다.

이날 한국의 코스피는 74.30포인트(3.82%) 떨어진 1,869.45, 코스닥은 32.86포인트(6.63%) 급락한 462.69으로 거래를 마쳤다.

대만증시의 가권지수는 300.33포인트(3.82%) 급락한 7,552.80으로 장을 마감했다.

일본 도쿄증시의 닛케이평균주가는 202.32포인트(2.18%) 하락한 9,097.56, 토픽스지수는 18.10포인트(2.26%) 내린 782.86으로 마감했다.

중국 상하이종합지수는 1% 대의 하락세로 출발한 후 견조한 모습을 지속했으나 오후 한국 등 아시아증시가 폭락하자 낙폭을 4.86%까지 확대했으며 오후 2시16분(이하 현지시간) 현재 저가매수가 유입됐음에도 3.6%대의 하락률을 지속하고 있다.

상하이지수는 작년 7월 이후 1년여만에 최저를 기록했다.

홍콩 항셍지수도 오후 1시53분 현재 807.86포인트(3.86%) 급락한 20,138.30에 거래되고 있으며 싱가포르 ST지수는 -4.69%, 인도 센섹스지수는 -2.54%, 태국 SET지수는 -2.89% 등의 하락률을 나타내고 있다.

아시아증시 하락은 미국의 더블딥(이중침체) 우려 때문으로 풀이된다. 미국은 국가 신용등급 하락으로 화폐의 구매력이 떨어지고 물가 상승압력이 높아져 다시 침체에 빠질 것이라는 관측이 잇따르고 있다.

앞서 지난 5일 스탠더드앤드푸어스(S&P)는 미국 국가신용등급을 기존 'AAA'에서 'AA+'로 한 단계 하향했으며 신용등급 전망을 '부정적 관찰대상'에 올렸다. 미국의 신용등급이 떨어진 것은 이번이 처음이다.

이날 주요 7개국(G7) 재무장관과 중앙은행 총재들이 시장의 안정을 위해 유동성 공급에 합의했다는 소식도 전해졌으나 시장에는 아무런 영향도 미치지 못했다.

상당수 전문가들은 당분간 금융시장이 불안하게 움직이겠지만 미국 신용등급 하락이 이미 예고된데다 신흥국가들의 경제가 높은 성장률을 보이고 있고 국제 사회가 금융시장 안정에 협조 체제를 구축하고 있어 점차 상황이 진정될 것으로 내다보고 있다.

하지만 다른 일각에서는 아시아 증시가 금융위기 후 많이 올라 미국을 포함한 선진국들의 채무 위기를 계기로 일정 기간 조정을 지속할 것이라는 의견도 나오고 있다. (연합뉴스)