Thursday, 24 May 2012

Asian and European stocks tumble, US stocks escape

Asian and European stocks fell sharply on Wednesday amid growing concerns on the eurozone debt crisis. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 1.6 percent while the STOXX Europe 600 Index dived 2.1 percent.

However, US stocks ended little changed, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index up 0.2 percent. Oil, though, fell 2.1 percent to $89.90 a barrel, closing below $90 for the first time since October.

Early on Wednesday, the Bank of Japan had left monetary policy unchanged.

This came as a report on Wednesday showed that Japan's exports rose 7.9 percent in April from a year earlier, the biggest gain in more than a year. With imports rising 8.0 percent, the trade balance remained in deficit.

Meanwhile, there were further signs of a recovery in the US housing market on Wednesday. New home sales increased 3.3 percent in April while the Federal Housing Finance Agency's house price index was up 2.7 percent in March from a year ago, the largest gain since November 2006.

However, the UK economy continues to look weak after a report on Wednesday showed that retail sales volumes fell 2.3 percent in April, its biggest drop since January 2010.

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