Asia stocks mixed at end of rocky week

HONG KONG, Aug 12, 2011 (AFP) - Asian stocks were mixed on Friday as early gains on the back of rallies in the United States and Europe were sold as markets remained volatile at the end of a rollercoaster week.

Tokyo lost 0.20 percent, or 18.22 points, to 8,963.72 and Seoul was down 1.33 percent, or 24.13 points, at 1,793.31 while Sydney added 0.78 percent, or 31.8 points, to 4,172.6 and Hong Kong added 0.84 percent in the afternoon.

Shanghai was up 0.31 percent in the afternoon.

The markets began the day on a high as investors took their lead from the United States and Europe, where equities saw solid gains.

However, they later eased against a background of intense volatility and lingering global uncertainty.

Shares globally have swung wildly since the head of the European Commission said last Thursday that the eurozone debt crisis had likely spread into other economies from those on the periphery of the bloc.

Then last Friday Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' credit rating for the first time, sending traders into a panic and stoking fears that the world's number one economy could sink back into recession.

The US Federal Reserve on Tuesday moved to stem the selling by assuring investors that it would not raise interest rates for at least the next two years.

"The high volatility in US and European stocks is likely to continue for some time until fundamental issues are addressed," Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Helped by strong new earnings reports from News Corporation and Cisco, gains on the Dow in Wall Street topped 5.1 percent before it closed up 3.94 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq surged 4.69.

Europe's bourses also posted solid gains, turning around after French President Nicolas Sarkozy called a eurozone crisis meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel aimed at shoring up the eurozone.

But concerns about the triggers of the recent volatility -- the eurozone debt problems, the downgrade of the US credit rating by Standard & Poor's, and slowing growth worldwide, remain.

On currency markets, the US dollar remained under pressure on fears of a slowdown in the United States and on deep worries about the eurozone debt crisis.

The dollar stood at 76.76 yen, slightly down from 76.88 in late New York trade on Thursday, and hovering just above the post-war low of 76.25 yen.

The euro was at $1.4181 from $1.4238, while it edged down to 108.87 yen from 109.29 yen.

The Australian dollar was fetching 102.91 US cents early Friday, slightly up from Thursday's close of 102.87.

Oil fell. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September, fell $1.03 to $84.69 per barrel in the afternoon.

Brent North Sea crude for September delivery dipped 57 cents to $107.45.

Gold opened at $1,754.00-$1,755.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, down from Thursday's close of $1,782.50-$1,783.50. The precious metal had surged early Thursday to a record above $1,800.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 1.06 percent, or 82.07 points, to 7,637.02.

HTC shed 3.03 percent to Tw$800.0 while Hon Hai was 1.09 percent lower at Tw$72.9.

-- Manila rose 0.25 percent, or 10.71 points, to 4,321.73.

Lepanto Mining soared 7.3 percent to 1.46 pesos and Metropolitan Bank was up 1.7 percent at 75.70 pesos but Philippine Long Distance Telephone fell 0.8 percent to 2,240 pesos.

-- Wellington closed up 0.25 percent, or 7.88 points, at 3,216.50.

Fletcher Building rose 1.5 percent to NZ$7.62, Air New Zealand gained 3.7 percent to close at NZ$1.12 and Telecom Corp. fell 1.8 percent to NZ$2.45.

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