Forex Pros – Asian stock markets were mixed on Thursday, as market sentiment was weighed after Portugal announced it would require a bailout, while shares in Japanese lenders advanced after the Bank of Japan established a special lending facility.
During late Asian trade, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged 0.07% lower, South Korea’s Kospi Composite fell 0.21%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index added 0.07%
Earlier in the day, the BoJ kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged, broadly in line with expectations. The central bank said it planned to lend a total of JPY1 trillion in one-year loans for businesses hurt by the nation’s record earthquake, with officials seeing the disaster putting downward pressure on the economy.
Shares in the financial sector were broadly higher following the announcement. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group saw shares climb 2.4%, while Mizuho Financial Group saw shares rise 1.55%.
Meanwhile, shares in electronics manufacturer Pioneer slumped 5% after the company lowered its full-year earnings outlook and decided to pay no year-end dividend for the 2011 fiscal year.
Japan’s largest chip manufacturer Elpida Memory climbed 2.7%, after the Nikkei Newspaper reported that the company developed a new chip for smartphones and other devices.
Elsewhere, Australia’s ASX/200 Index shed 0.28% as shares in stock market operator ASX dropped 1.5% after Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan rejected a proposed AUD8.4 billion takeover bid by Singapore Exchange Ltd.
Earlier Thursday, official data showed that the nation’s unemployment declined unexpectedly to 4.9% in March, while the number of employed people rose significantly more-than-expected.
The outlook for European equity markets, meanwhile, was mixed. The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a modest gain of 0.03%, France’s CAC 40 futures added 0.18%, the FTSE 100 futures edged 0.02% lower, while Germany’s DAX futures indicated a rise of 0.17%.
Later in the day, the ECB was to announce its minimum bid rate. The announcement was to be followed by a closely watched press conference. Also Thursday, the U.S. was to publish a weekly report on initial jobless claims.
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