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Asia stocks lower as Italy borrowing costs rise

business Updated: Nov 16, 2011 08:18 IST

AP
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Asian stocks fell in early trading on Wednesday, as strong economic data out of the US failed to quell worries about Europe's festering debt crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.1% to 8,529.98. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.6% at 19,040.65 and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.2% to 1,882.14.

Stocks in Asia failed to retain the momentum on Wall Street, where a session of strong swings ended with modest gains. The Dow rose 0.1% to 12,096.16. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% to 1,257.81, and the Nasdaq added 1.1% to 2,686.20.

Data on retail sales showed Americans spending more on autos, electronics and building supplies in October, the fifth straight month of increases. Sales increased 0.5% from the previous month, a faster rate than economists expected and the latest indication that the US economy is likely to avoid another recession.

But Europe's debt woes continued to weigh on markets. Higher interest rates on government debt issued by Italy, Spain and other countries rattled European stock markets Tuesday. The interest rate on Italy's 10-year bond jumped back above 7%, a dangerously high level.

When that rate crossed the 7% threshold last week, it raised worries about Italy's ability to manage its debts. Greece, Ireland and Portugal had to get rescued by international lenders when their borrowing rates crossed the same level.

Many economists think the eurozone economy could head back into recession over the coming months.