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Asia stocks drift as Greece dampens impact of strong US data

WT24 Desk
Seoul — Asian stock markets were little changed Friday as lack of progress in bailout negotiations between Greece and its creditors dampened the positive impulse from upbeat U.S. retail and jobs data, AP reports.KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 added less than 0.1 percent to 20,393.32 and South Korea’s benchmark inched up 0.1 percent to 2,058.24. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 27,042.00 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.2 percent to 5,545.40. Stocks in Shanghai and Singapore were nearly flat.IMF WALKOUT: The International Monetary Fund said there was no progress in recent Greece bailout talks and pulled negotiators out of the meetings. The move increases pressure on Athens to compromise but markets were worried that the outstanding differences between Greece and its creditors would lead to the country defaulting on its debt. A possible consequence of a default is Greece leaving the euro currency bloc. The country faces a June 30 deadline for a debt payment and a meeting of the eurozone’s finance ministers, known as the eurogroup, from June 18-19 may be a decisive milestone in the saga.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “The fact the IMF walked out of talks and flew straight back to the States doesn’t help sentiment or give you confidence a deal will be done,” said Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG. “This will get messy.”

BRIGHT USA: Retail sales climbed 1.2 percent in May, the Commerce Department said. The retail report showed that Americans ramped up their spending on autos, building materials and clothing, a sign that strong job growth is starting to boost sales at stores. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, yet remains at a historically low level underlining a healthier job market.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rose for a second day. The S&P 500 climbed 3.66 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,108.86. The Dow Jones industrial average increased 38.97 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,039.37. The Nasdaq composite rose 5.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,082.51.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 24 cents to $60.53 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed 66 cents lower at $60.77 a barrel in Nymex floor trading on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 20 cents to $65.59.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.1262 from $1.1246. The dollar weakened to 123.44 yen from 123.55 yen.

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