Asian stock markets weighed down by Greek bailout drama, dull Wall Street performance

Markets Associated Press

Asian stock markets were mostly lower Wednesday as Greece's bailout woes and a stagnant Wall Street performance dampened investor sentiment.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225, which had been on a bull streak recently, edged down 0.3 percent to 20,473.51. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.7 percent to 2,063.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.8 percent to 27,672.73 while the Shanghai Composite slipped nearly 0.1 percent to 4,906.30. Southeast Asian stocks were mixed.

EUROPEAN AGENDA: Concerns about Greece's ability to meet debt payments to its bailout creditors have weighed on markets. If Greece defaults on its debt, that may mean a departure from the euro zone. Greece's prime minister was set to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels to discuss his proposal to secure a vital, long-overdue agreement with the country's bailout lenders. Separately, the European Central Bank meets later Wednesday.

THE QUOTE: Markets are closely watching for any "rhetoric" that comes out of the European Central Bank, although no change is expected to its new policy of quantitative monetary easing, Mizuho Bank said in a market commentary. "The expected pick-up in growth momentum also reduces the need for extended policy stimulus," Mizuho said. "Any rhetoric on Greece ... will also be scrutinized."

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 2.13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,109.60 on Tuesday. The index has gained 0.1 percent in the past month. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 28.43 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,011.94. The Nasdaq composite fell 6.40 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,076.52.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 45 cents to $60.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures contract rose $1.06 to close at $61.26 a barrel in Nymex floor trading on Tuesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, was down 38 cents to $65.11 a barrel in London.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar was little changed at 124.01 yen from 124.03 yen Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1142 from $1.1152.