Asian markets hit by ECB disappointment

Asian markets mostly fell and the euro came back under pressure on Friday after the European Central Bank dashed traders' hopes for strong policy actions to support troubled eurozone economies.

Downbeat earnings reports from two of Japan's biggest electronics firms also weighed on the Nikkei, with Sharp losing more than a quarter of its value in the morning session.

Tokyo fell 1.13 percent, or 98.07 points, to 8,555.11, Seoul shed 1.11, or 20.72 points, to 1,848.68, Sydney closed 1.12 percent, or 48.0 points, lower at 4,221.5 and Hong Kong shed 0.12 percent, or 24.02 points, to close at 19,666.18.

But Shanghai ended 1.02 percent higher, adding 21.62 points to 2,132.80, after the country's securities regulator said it would cut transaction fees on equity trading by 20 percent from September 1.

Markets were deflated by the ECB's decision to hold off any concrete moves to support the euro such as bond buying, which many had hoped for after bank chief Mario Draghi said last week it would do whatever was needed to save the euro.

On Thursday he reiterated that the ECB was ready to step into the bond markets -- but not just yet.

Draghi insisted the onus was on eurozone governments, saying they must carry out promised reforms and turn to the region's bailout funds before the ECB could step in.

In the face of growing pressure, the ECB "may undertake outright open market operations of a size adequate to reach its objective", he said, but added that the details would be worked out "in the coming weeks".

Whatever the circumstances, Draghi said it was "pointless" to bet against the euro. "It stays. It stays. It stays," he insisted.

However investors, who had sent global markets surging over the past week as they factored in some sort of action, were unimpressed and Spanish borrowing costs bounced back above the seven percent danger level.

"As we had feared, Draghi failed miserably to live up to the heightened market expectations of significant new measures to match his pledge last week to do whatever is necessary to preserve the euro," Daiwa Capital Markets said in a note, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

The let-down came after the US Federal Reserve had said on Wednesday that it would take a wait-and-see approach before unveiling any stimulus for the world's number one economy.

The news rippled around global markets, with London, Paris and Frankfurt all falling, while Madrid and Milan slumped.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.71 percent, the Nasdaq lost 0.36 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.74 percent.

In foreign exchange trade the euro, which tumbled after the ECB announcement, remained under pressure in Tokyo as investors moved out of riskier assets and into safer bets such as the yen and dollar.

The common unit bought $1.2235 and 95.70 yen in late afternoon trade, compared with $1.2178 and 95.26 yen in New York late Thursday.

It was still down from the $1.2250 and 96.12 earlier in Asia before the ECB meeting.

The dollar was at 78.21 yen from 78.22 yen.

In Tokyo Sharp shed 28.08 percent a day after it said losses in the first quarter to June almost trebled from last year and it warned its full year loss would be wider than first thought.

Sony also lost seven percent after reporting its quarterly loss had widened while also cutting its full-year profit forecast.

Eyes will now be on Washington where US employment data for July is due to be released, providing a clearer indication as to the state of the economy.

Oil prices were higher. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for September delivery advanced 97 cents to $88.10 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for September was 89 cents higher at $106.79.

Gold was at $1,595.50 at 1045 GMT, from $1,602.40 on Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore closed 0.50 percent, or 15.14 points, higher at 3,051.33.

Oversea-Chinese Banking fell 0.42 percent to Sg$9.40 and DBS Group Holdings was 0.41 percent higher at Sg$14.75.

-- Taipei fell 0.69 percent, or 50.45 points, to 7,217.51.

Hon Hai Precision shed 3.77 percent to Tw$81.6 while TSMC was 0.25 percent lower at Tw$79.8.

-- Manila closed 0.14 percent, or 7.49 points, lower at 5,285.91.

Tanduay Holdings dropped 5.06 percent to 10.88 pesos while Philex Mining, the country's largest mining firm, slipped 7.59 percent to 19.96 pesos after Philex saying waste had leaked from one of its mines due to heavy rains, forcing the government to shut it down.

-- Wellington fell 0.45 percent, or 16.11 points, to 3,548.00.

Telecom shed 0.74 percent to NZ$2.68, Chorus was off 0.96 percent at NZ$3.08 and Fletcher Building fell 0.32 percent to NZ$6.17.

-- Jakarta rose 0.16 percent, or 6.70 points, to 4,099.81.

Cigarette maker Gudang Garam rose 0.3 percent to 51,000 rupiah, consumer goods producer Mayora Indah gained 4.1 percent 21,700 rupiah, while Bank Central Asia fell 1.9 percent to 7,700 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur added 0.10 percent, or 1.59 points, to 1,635.04.

-- Bangkok fell 0.30 percent, or 3.60 points, to 1,197.53.

Banpu dropped 0.50 percent to 400.00 Baht, while PTT lost 0.62 percent to 320.00 Baht.

-- Mumbai slipped 0.15 percent, or 26.43 points, to 17,197.93.

Sterlite Industries, the local arm of global resources group Vedanta, fell 2.62 percent to 102.05 rupees while steel giant Tata Steel fell 2.2 percent to 396.95.

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