Mixed day seen for Asian markets; Aussie dollar still soaring

<p>Asian stocks are set for a mixed open despite a mildly positive finish for US stocks overnight. The S&P500 was up less than 0.1% but […]</p>

Asian stocks are set for a mixed open despite a mildly positive finish for US stocks overnight.

The S&P500 was up less than 0.1% but improved on earlier losses. The Dow Jones Industrial average added around 21 points.

Commodities were boosted by energy prices with the S&P GSCI Index of commodities up 0.5% as natural gas added almost 2%.

The main drag for Asian markets will be the continuing negative news coming out of Europe.

The Australian dollar is trading near record high levels against the Euro, last at around 0.80. The Euro is back below 1.30 against the US dollar.

In corporate news overnight, Italy’s largest bank by total assets – Unicredit – offered a large discount on new shares it sold to raise money need to meet new European capital requirements. The news will no doubt be closely watched by other vulnerable financial institutions across Europe.

Shares in Unicredit were 14% lower on the news that it offered a 66% discount on new shares when compared to their last trading price before the offer was made.

Italian banks are collectively set to raise around 14 billion Euros in new capital to meet regulatory requirements set by the European Banking Authority. There could be more negative sentiment around these capital raisings weighing on markets over the next few weeks, particularly in Asia.

Meanwhile in Macau, gaming revenue in the Chinese territory firmed by 42% in 2011 and while the recent monetary policy contraction is having an impact on the overall rate of growth, December gaming revenues still managed to firm by 25%.

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