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Asia stocks weak amid US, European debt concerns

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks showed little vigor Tuesday as debt worries in the United States and Europe cast a shadow over the global economy and financial markets.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average, the benchmark for Asia's biggest bourse, declined 0.6 percent, to 9,919.43 after being closed for a national holiday Monday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 21,740.76 and mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.5 percent to 2,803.53.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi, however, rose 0.3 percent to 2,135.87, while shares in Singapore, India, Thailand and the Philippines also posted modest gains.

The lack of major movement either up or down Tuesday comes amid concern that Europe's debt crisis could harm larger economies and worries that the U.S. might not raise its debt ceiling by an early August deadline.

"Investors are very cautious," said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong.

"The euro crisis has been going on forever and it is still overhanging the market," he said.

In New York on Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 94.57 points, 0.8 percent, to 12,385.16. Broader indexes also declined. The S&P 500 index dropped 10.70 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,305.44, while the Nasdaq lost 24.69 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,765.11.

In Europe, investors fret that debt problems in smaller economies such as Greece will spread to larger ones such as Italy and Spain. Adding to pessimism, were the results of so-called stress tests on European banks released last week. Eight institutions failed the test aimed at measuring how well they would withstand further financial strain.

The U.S. debt limit debate also remains unresolved with the Aug. 2 deadline now two weeks away. The Treasury Department says the limit must be raised by that date or the government risks defaulting on its debt. Considering the need for legislation to enable such a move, however, an actual deal has to be crafted sooner.

In currencies, the dollar was little changed at 79.06 yen from 79.05 yen late Monday in New York. The euro also showed little movement, rising marginally to $1.4091 from $1.4090.

Oil prices crept above $96 a barrel in Asia amid expectations U.S. crude supplies dropped last week.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was up 23 cents to $96.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude gave up $1.31 to settle at $95.93 on Monday.


Associated Press writer Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.

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