Asian markets lower after anti-austerity party wins Greek parliamentary election

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A woman waves a Greek flag during a speech by the leader of Syriza left-wing party Alexis Tsipras outside Athens University Headquarters, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. A triumphant Alexis Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left Syriza party's win in Sunday's early general election meant an end to austerity and humiliation and that the country's regular and often fraught debt inspections were a thing of the past. "Today the Greek people have made history. Hope has made history," Tsipras said in his victory speech at a conference hall in central Athens. (AP Photo/Fotis Plegas G.)


SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stocks and the euro were weaker Monday after Greece's anti-austerity opposition party won a big victory in national elections, renewing fears the European common currency bloc could unravel.

KEEPING SCORE: Most Asian markets narrowed their losses by afternoon. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.3 percent to 17,453.35 and South Korea's Kospi was down 0.1 percent at 1,934.26. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.1 percent to 24,815.02. China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.1 percent to 3,348.49. The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.197, recovering from its lowest since April 2003. Wall Street futures were sharply lower. Dow futures dropped 0.6 percent to 17,469 and S&P 500 futures fell 0.5 percent to 2,031.80.

GREEK ELECTION: Syriza party, the left-wing party vowing to end Greece's painful austerity policies, won a historic victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections. Alexis Tsipras, the party leader, promised to end "humiliation and pain" that Greece has endured since a 2010 international bailout imposed harsh spending cuts, setting up a showdown with the country's international creditors that could shake the eurozone. The nearly completed vote count shows Syriza close to an outright majority.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Doubts over whether the EU bailout program will be extended should keep Greek bonds and the euro under pressure," said Chang Wei Liang at Mizuho Bank in a commentary. Within Europe, "Syriza's victory could signal a broadening shift of support away from mainstream political parties toward economic populism, and might lead to more active political pressure to pare back austerity measures within Spain and Italy as well."

JAPAN DEFICIT: Japan's trade deficit hit a record high last year as a cheap yen increased the cost of imports, offsetting a moderate recovery in exports. The finance ministry's preliminary data showed that Japan's trade deficit rose by 11.4 percent to 12.8 trillion yen ($109 billion) in 2014, from 11.5 trillion yen in 2013.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 51 cents to $45.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 72 cents to settle at $45.59 on Friday. The price of oil has fluctuated since the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah late last week. Analysts said the king's death is unlikely to change Saudi's oil production levels, a key factor in the global prices, but it has created a small amount of additional uncertainty that has unsettled markets. Brent crude was down 69 cents to $48.10 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was flat at 117.80 yen.

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