Most of Asian stock markets were in red Thursday after Portugal pleaded for a bailout to relieve its crushing debt.
Portugal was one of three Europe’s members using the euro common currency to ask for a bailout. Previously, Greece and Ireland sought outside help to relieve their debt. Prime Minister Jose Socrates emphasized Wednesday that Portugal must take international assistance to save the economy.
In Korea, the Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 2,112.95. Shares of Samsung Electronics Co. shed 1.8 percent, driven by its sharp decline in earnings in the first quarter. Besides suffering from weakness in its liquid crystal display business, the company had to compete with its rivals in the table computer.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slid to 24,275.36 and 4,903.10 respectively. Other major indexes in Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand also fell.
Meanwhile, benchmarks in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan rose. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index advanced 0.2 percent to 9,606.03.
Investors’ sentiment was strengthened when the Bank of Japan kept its key interest rate stand still at near zero. In addition, the bank extended emergency loans to commercial banks which were affected by the earthquake and tsunami crisis.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is set to raise interest rates for the first time since July 2008 as concerns about inflation trump fears of collateral damage to weaker eurozone members’ economies.
With inflation at 2.6 percent and tends to continue climbing, the ECB appears to have taken actions ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, and the Bank of America.
The euro rose on Wednesday on expectations that the central bank will raise interest rates while the dollar weakened against other major currencies.
In the oil markets, oil prices remained high as situation in Libya appeared to fall in stalemate.
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