Asian Markets Rattled Over Ongoing US Fears
Asia's markets fell on Monday in the year's first full day of trade, with Tokyo tumbling as the dollar and euro retreated from five-year highs against the yen.
The reaction comes after investors were given a mixed lead from Wall Street after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke called for continued efforts to reinforce the recovery in the US economy.
Tokyo fell 2.35%, Sydney lost 0.47%, Shanghai dropped 1.80%, while Hong Kong lost 0.58%.
The only Asian bright spot was in Seoul, where the market rose 0.37%.
Japan's Nikkei started the year with heavy losses after surging 57% in 2013, with profit-taking adding to downward pressure, while the yen rebounded from recent lows.
The dollar and euro early last week hit highs against the yen not seen since October 2008, but they fell back on Friday in thin trade as many dealers stayed away after the holiday season.
"Tokyo stocks are overbought, and a break in the yen's fall, plus weaker futures are sure to result in some long-needed profit-taking after the December run-up," SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi said.
"Hopes for a continued US economic recovery and longer-term dollar appreciation should keep sharp sell-offs well contained, however."
The US currency stood at 104.43 yen on Monday in Tokyo against 104.85 yen in New York on Friday, and well off the mid-105 yen mark seen at the start of last week.
In the US, Mr Bernanke's†speech on Friday to economists - as he prepares to leave office - called for continued efforts to make sure the world's number one economy keeps growing and unemployment carries on falling.
Highlighting that the US jobless rate fell from 10% in 2009 to 7.0% recently, Mr Bernanke nevertheless insisted: "Much progress has been made, but more remains to be done."
He added that the Fed's decision last month to cut its monthly bond-buying by $10bn (£6.1bn) to $75bn (£45bn) did not indicate any lesser commitment to maintain an easy-money policy "for as long as needed".
The Dow Jones index last Friday added 0.17%, the S&P 500 dipped 0.03% and the Nasdaq fell 0.27%.
Chinese shares extended their losses from last week on fears that the restart of initial public offerings after a year-long hiatus will cause a glut at a time with there is already concern about liquidity.
The 10-year bond yield for China has also risen above 4.7%. The Financial Times said the country's five-year yields are now at a 16-year high.
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