Asian stocks retreat for fifth day as Greece delays debt payment

Asian stocks fell for a fifth day, with the regional benchmark index heading for its second week of losses, following a decline in United States equities as Greece asked for a deferral on its debt payments. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Asian stocks fell for a fifth day, with the regional benchmark index heading for its second week of losses, following a decline in United States equities as Greece asked for a deferral on its debt payments. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks fell for a fifth day, with the regional benchmark index heading for its second week of losses, following a decline in United States equities as Greece asked for a deferral on its debt payments.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.3 per cent to 148.85 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo, heading for a 1.7 per cent decline this week amid a selloff in bonds and commodities. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped on Thursday as raw-material producers slid and Greece became the first country since the 1980s to defer a payment to the International Monetary Fund. While international officials have reported some progress in the talks in recent days, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they were far from reaching a conclusion.

"The market selloff isn't over given the huge moves we've seen this week in the bond markets," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said by phone. "Greece delaying debt payments is definitely not positive. There's a lot of pressure on asset prices that's really related to the bond market moves."

The global bond rout, reignited this week by signs of inflation in the euro area, took a breather on Thursday, with 10-year U.S. Treasuries rising for the first time this week. Germany's 10-year bund yields reached almost 1 per cent before pulling back to 0.84 per cent, while rates from Spain to Italy retreated.

Japan's Topix index slipped 0.7 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.1 per cent. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index sank 0.4 per cent, as did South Korea's Kospi index. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to open.