SEOUL: Asian stocks were mostly weaker on Tuesday as worry about Greek political affairs and the shaky Russian ruble spoiled confidence in the global economy.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7 percent to 17,610.13 while South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 1,913.50. China’s Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.4 percent to 3,155.28 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was also down 0.6 percent to 23,628.95. Australia’s S&P/ ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,455.10. Market benchmarks in Taiwan and Thailand were down but Singapore and Malaysia rose.
Greek bonds and shares fell after parliament failed to approve a new president, forcing the government to call early elections that could bring more economic turmoil. Investors worry elections might be won by the left-wing opposition Syriza party, which rejects Greece’s bailout deal. The Athens stock market closed 4 percent lower after plunging as much as 11 percent earlier.
“An election puts all sorts of doubt on the future of the bailout agreement given anti-austerity party Syriza is currently leading the polls,” said Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG Markets. “Potentially markets had already priced this in but I would still remain cautious around Greece.”
The Russian currency fell further, losing 0.5 percent against the U.S. dollar. Russian monetary officials have made stabilizing the currency a priority amid slumping oil revenues and unease about the country’s economic outlook.
OTHER CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 120.479 yen from 120.659 yen while the euro fell to $1.2138 from $1.2159.
Despite fears about Greece, U.S. stocks inched higher in light trading on Monday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.1 percent to 2,090.57. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.1 percent to 18,038.23. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.05 points to 4,806.91
Benchmark U.S. crude was down 8 cents to $53.53 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract plunged $1.12 to settle at $53.61. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 2 cents to $57.86.