Asian markets hit by Fed stimulus fears
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HONG KONG, Feb 21 AFP
February 21 2013, 10:12PM
Asian markets have suffered a heavy sell-off following a tumble on Wall Street as traders grow concerned the US Federal Reserve could bring an early end to its huge stimulus program.
Minutes from the Fed's most recent policy board meeting showed some members in favour of cutting short the $US85 billion ($A83.37 billion)-a-month bond-buying introduced last year to support the economy and which has helped lift global shares.
Tokyo fell 1.39 per cent, or 159.15 points, to 11,309.13 and Sydney slid 2.33 per cent, or 118.6 points, to 4,980.1, its worst day so far for 2013 and biggest fall since May.
Seoul was off 0.47 per cent, or 9.42 points, at 2,015.22.
Shanghai tumbled 2.97 per cent, or 71.23 points, to 2,325.95, while Hong Kong slipped 1.72 per cent, or 400.74 points, to 22,906.67.
The Fed introduced a third round of its asset-purchase scheme, known as quantitative easing 3 (QE3), in September and said it would not take its foot off the pedal until unemployment had fallen and the economy was strong enough.
However, investor sentiment took a hit after the Fed minutes showed a "number" of board members said an ongoing evaluation of the easing "might well lead the committee to taper or end its purchases before it judged that a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labour market had occurred".
On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.77 per cent and the S&P 500 lost 1.24 per cent, with both markets having closed at more than five-year highs on Tuesday. The Nasdaq dropped 1.53 per cent.
The dollar surged against the euro in New York trade, with the single currency ending at $1.3283, well down from $1.3390 the previous day.
In Tokyo on Thursday the euro bought $1.3265. The euro also sat at 123.96 yen compared with 124.37 yen in New York. The greenback fetched 93.45 yen, against 93.61 yen.
Flagship airline Qantas lifted 2.79 per cent after slashing international losses and banking Dreamliner compensation from Boeing to notch a net first-half profit of $US114 million - up 164 per cent year on year.
Sony slipped 1.77 per cent to close at 1,331 yen in a muted response after it announced its long-awaited PlayStation 4 in New York without actually unveiling the console.
Oil prices were lower owing to a stronger dollar, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, shedding $1.06 to $94.16 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April dropping 98 cents to $114.62.
Gold was at $1,568.41 at 1030 GMT (2130 AEDT) compared with $1,595.20 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
-- Taipei fell 71.64 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 7,957.46.
HTC rose 0.54 per cent to Tw$279.0 while Hon Hai Precision fell 1.89 per cent to Tw$83.2.
-- Manila closed 0.28 per cent higher, adding 18.84 points to 6,667.41.
BDO Unibank gained 0.49 per cent to 92 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.48 per cent to 2,896 pesos.
-- Wellington fell 1.04 per cent, or 43.81 points, to 4,170.43.
Fletcher Building fell 3.6 per cent to NZ$8.55 and Nuplex lost 4.0 per cent to end at NZ$3.33, while Telecom was down 1.3 per cent at NZ$2.21.
-- Singapore closed 0.64 per cent, or 21.29 points, lower at 3,287.60.
Oil rig maker Keppel Corp dropped 0.43 per cent to Sg$11.66. Real estate developer Capitaland fell 2.74 per cent to Sg$3.90.
-- Jakarta ended down 2.05 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 4,632.40.
State controlled miner Aneka Tambang dropped 3.73 per cent to 1,290 rupiah and retailer Hero Supermarket slid 1.82 per cent to 5,400 rupiah.
-- Bangkok lost 1.16 per cent or 17.90 points to 1,528.74.
Coal producer Banpu added 3.70 per cent to 392.00 baht, while Bangkok Life Assurance jumped 3.08 per cent to 67.00 baht.
-- Kuala Lumpur gained 0.72 points or 0.04 per cent, to close at 1,614.05.
Felda Global Ventures Holdings was up 0.4 per cent to 4.49 ringgit while PPB Group rose 0.8 per cent to 12.38. Genting Malaysia fell 1.9 per cent to end at 3.56 ringgit.
-- Mumbai fell 1.62 per cent or 317.39 points to 19,325.36 points.
Indian steel producer Tata Steel fell 4.18 per cent to 364.15 rupees while private ICICI Bank slid 3.77 per cent to 1,078.45 rupees.