World stocks muted on Cyprus fears; Japan falls as Kuroda's speech fails to impress investors

HONG KONG – Japanese stocks tumbled Friday as investors were disappointed by a lack of specifics from the new central bank chief on boosting the economy. Elsewhere, markets were lower because of uncertainty over the restructuring of troubled banks in Cyprus.

Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.1 per cent to 6,381.09. Germany’s DAX lost 0.4 per cent to 7,901.13. France’s CAC-40 shed 0.5 per cent to 3,757.50. Wall Street appeared headed for losses, with Dow Jones industrial futures falling slightly to 14,343 while S&P 500 futures down 0.1 per cent to 1,537.60.

Investors remained wary while Cyprus works to restructure its banks ahead of a Monday deadline. The Mediterranean nation is trying to raise about $7.5 billion to avoid bankruptcy. If it can’t, the European Central Bank has threatened to cut off emergency support for its banks, which would devastate its economy and possibly force it out of the euro.

Investors “just want them to get it done,” said Jackson Wong, a vice-president at Tanrich Securities. “The financial markets are counting on the confidence.”

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 plummeted 2.4 per cent to close at 12,338.53 and the dollar weakened to 94.35 Japanese yen from 95.01 yen in late trading Thursday. The yen weakened after Haruhiko Kuroda delivered his first speech late Thursday following his installation as central bank governor, reiterating a pledge to bring Asia’s second biggest economy out of deflation but offering few specifics.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.5 per cent to 22,115.30. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.1 per cent at 1,948.71. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also fell.

Mainland Chinese shares gained for the fourth straight trading day, with the Shanghai Composite Index up 0.1 per cent to 2,328.28 while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.3 per cent to 960.84.

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.2 per cent to 4,967.30.

Among individual stocks, PetroChina fell 2 per cent after the state-owned Chinese energy company said profit last year fell on price controls and higher cost of imported natural gas.

The euro rose to $1.2914 from $1.2899 in late trading Thursday.

Oil prices rose, with benchmark crude for May delivery up 3 cents to $92.48 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York. The contract fell $1.05 to finish at $92.45 a barrel on Thursday.