Asian stock markets mostly down as Greece deadline looms, Shanghai sinks

Markets Associated Press

Asian stocks were mostly lower Thursday as a deadline for Greece to make a debt payment neared and Chinese shares dived after big gains in the past three months.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent to 20,551.46; the index is up nearly 10 percent in the past three months as exporter stocks benefit from a cheap yen. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.2 percent to 5,713.10 while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.2 percent to 2,110.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 2 percent to 27,518.71. The Shanghai Composite dropped 3.2 percent to 4,784.95; over the past three months the index has risen 44 percent. Southeast Asian markets fell while Taiwan and New Zealand rose.

GREECE FACTOR: Greece might miss a debt payment on June 5 if it fails to receive bailout funds from creditors, who are demanding that the country make reforms to its economy. It is still unclear whether an agreement can be reached in time, but European shares got a lift from players counting on a deal being reached.

THE QUOTE: "With the situation in Greece rapidly coming to a head and election results showing disenchantment with the status quo and the establishment across the continent, the pressure to reach a solution on Greece has grown rapidly," said Nicholas Teo, analyst with CMC in Singapore, in a market commentary. "Developments on this front may continue to drive trading action in the coming days."

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 121.45 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,162.99. It had fallen 190 points on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 19.28 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,123.48 and the Nasdaq composite rose 73.84 points, or 1.5 percent, to 5,106.59.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 25 cents to $57.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 52 cents to settle at $57.51 a barrel in Nymex floor trading on Wednesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose 47 cents to $62.53 a barrel in London.

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CURRENCIES: The euro was little changed at $1.0907 from $1.0899 in the previous trading session. The dollar surrendered some gains against the yen, falling to 123.72 yen from 123.75 yen.

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