Stocks in Asia ended mostly lower today, bogged down by all-too-familiar anxieties about euro-zone debt. Italian bond yields rose to a euro-era high of 6.2% during a Monday auction, suggesting that newly appointed technocrat Mario Monti has been saddled with quite a task in leading the country from the brink of default. The ongoing euro drama propelled the safe-haven yen higher, which weighed heavily on Japanese exporters. By the close, South Korea's Kospi declined 0.9%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.8%, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.7%, and China's Shanghai Composite managed to gain 0.04%.
The major equity benchmarks are pointed south in Europe, with bond yields on Italian and Spanish debt both creeping toward uncomfortably high levels. Also weighing on sentiment is a dismal earnings report from Italy's UniCredit, which confessed to a hefty third-quarter loss of 10.64 billion euros. Against this backdrop, traders were none too impressed by GDP data showing modest expansion in France and Germany during the recently concluded quarter. At last check, the French CAC 40 is down 2.1%, the German DAX has dipped 2%, and London's FTSE 100 is 1% lower.
Currencies and Commodities
The greenback is on the rebound this morning, with the U.S. dollar up 0.4%. On the other hand, crude futures have extended yesterday's retreat, with the front-month contract down 36 cents, or 0.4%, to linger near $97.86 per barrel. Likewise, gold futures have also continued their recent pullback, with the malleable metal last seen $8.40, or 0.5%, lower at $1,770 an ounce.
Unusual Put and Call Activity:
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