World stocks mixed amid Greek debt fears

World stocks mixed as talks to resolve Greece's debt crisis drag on

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stock markets were mixed Monday as fears of a Greek debt default dampened the euphoria from a stronger-than-expected increase in U.S. jobs.

Benchmark oil fell to near $97 per barrel while the dollar rose against the euro and the yen.

European stocks fell in early trading as Greece's coalition government was facing another day of tough negotiations with international lenders to reach a deal for Athens to receive a euro130 billion ($171 billion) emergency bailout.

The deal is vital for Greece to avoid bankruptcy as it cannot cover a euro14.5 billion ($19.1 billion) bond repayment due March 20.

Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.3 percent to 5,883.86. Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent to 6,739.95 and France's CAC-40 lost 0.8 percent to 3,399.17. Wall Street also was headed for a lower opening, with Dow Jones industrial futures down 0.3 percent to 12,751 and S&P 500 futures shedding 0.4 percent to 1,333.20.

Asian shares closed higher on the heels of a data released Friday that showed U.S. unemployment had fallen to its lowest in three years, suggesting a stronger recovery in the world's No. 1 economy that could benefit the region's exporters.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 percent to close at 8,929.20, its highest closing in more than three months. South Korea's Kospi was marginally higher at 1,973.13.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2 percent to 20,709.94, slipping into negative territory as investors began to cash in some of their investments as the talks in Greece dragged on.

"We hit 21,000 and now there is profit-taking, because there is still potential bad news from Greece," said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong. "The Greek debt talks are still going on, and no one knows if significant bad news will come out of there."

Australia's S&P ASX/200 added 1.1 percent to 4,296 while benchmarks in Singapore, mainland China and the Philippines also rose. Taiwan's and Indonesia's main indexes fell.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average was propelled to its highest close since May 2008 after the U.S. Labor Department said the economy added 243,000 new jobs in January, the strongest job growth in nine months.

That helped to push the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent and the number of unemployed down to 12.8 million.

Noting that a similar gain occurred in April 2010, only to be followed by a negative trend, analysts at DBS in Singapore said, "Stay optimistic but keep a few grains of salt close at hand."

Falling unemployment in the U.S. is likely to be good news for Asia, as it suggests stronger consumer demand for the region's exports of clothing, cars, consumer electronics and other goods.

Among Japanese shares, Panasonic Corp. soared 6.3 percent and Mazda Motor Corp. jumped 6.9 percent. Camera maker Nikon Corp. shot up 11.2 percent after revising upward its net pretax profit for the current business year, Kyodo News reported.

Chinese shipping companies, which also stand to benefit from increasing exports, also rose. Hong Kong-listed China Shipping Container Lines rose 5.1 percent. China COSCO Holdings gained 4.9 percent.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 66 cents to $97.19 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.48 to finish at $97.84 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3059 from $1.3153 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 76.66 yen from 76.55 yen.

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