Ask markets swing between gains and losses as material stocks weigh on index

<p>Asian stocks commenced the week in mixed territory, swinging between gains and losses. The regional MSCI Asia Pacific index was up by less than 0.1% […]</p>

Asian stocks commenced the week in mixed territory, swinging between gains and losses. The regional MSCI Asia Pacific index was up by less than 0.1% at the commencement of trading in Tokyo. Australia’s ASX200 index was 0.6% lower in early afternoon trading, weighed down by materials stocks which were collectively down by around 1.4%. This came despite the price of copper, silver and gold rising on Friday. In regional currencies, the Australian dollar slipped back below 1.07 US cents after Prime Minister Julia Gillard regained her position as the Labor Party leader.
In the currencies, the euro continued its accent against the dollar, with Greek out of the headlines, last trading at 1.3452. The euro also made gains against the Australian dollar which slipped below 80 cents, last at 0.7934. The dollar continued its rise against the yen, consolidating above the 80 level to last buy 81.05. These nine month lows will no doubt come as a relief to Japanese exporters. In commodities, gold slipped slightly during Asian trading to US$1776/oz while silver also fell slightly to US$35.52/oz. The gold to silver ratio fell back below 50x.Copper was steady at around US$3.85/lb.
In regional corporate news, surfwear giant Billabong rejected TPG’s $818million offer for the company – at $3 a share – saying the offer with all the conditions attached sufficiently undervalues the business. It’s unclear how TPG will respond from here. Billabong shares were almost 5% higher in early afternoon trading. Shares in Japanese exporters were mostly firmer today, in response to the currency situation, with Sony leading the way, up around 3% throughout the session. In economic news, all eyes will be on Chinese PMI this week when the official reading is released on Thursday, 1st March.

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