Risk aversion weighs on Asian markets; Kiwi dollar under pressure

<p>The growing tension in Libya continued to reverberate and put a dampener in Asian markets today. The Japanese Nikkei was trading about 1 per cent […]</p>

The growing tension in Libya continued to reverberate and put a dampener in Asian markets today.

The Japanese Nikkei was trading about 1 per cent lower and the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index was also flat during midday trading in Asia.

In Japan, all sectors were in the red today with Consumer services and Basic Materials the hardest hit – both down around 1.5%. CSK Corp was up 14% after Nikkei English News reported Sumitomo Corp plans to buy a majority stake in the Japanese provider of computer services. Tobu Railway Co fell the most in more than 23 years after it said it planned to sell as much as 93.2billion Yen ($1.1 billion) of shares.

In Hong Kong, stocks fluctuated on speculation the government won’t introduce new measures to slow housing demand. Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd jumped 2.2%. CNOOC Ltd rose 0.9% following violence in Libya that pushed oil prices to an almost 30 month high.

In Australia, the local share market continued to be weaker today due to concerns of rising oil price and the prolonged uncertainty in Libya. The impact of the New Zealand earthquake, particularly on insurance stocks, also weighed down on the market.

The Australian dollar was trading on a narrow range today, but remained about the parity level. The Kiwi dollar remained under pressure, particularly after speculation that the New Zealand central bank may cut interest rate soon.

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