BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Tuesday as criticism by ratings agencies sparked skepticism about a historic European Union plan to fix a massive debt crisis by binding member economies closer together.
Benchmark oil hovered below $98 per barrel while the dollar fell against the euro and the yen.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.9 percent to 8,574.70. South Korea's Kospi gave up 1.4 percent to 1,872.47. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.9 percent to 18,413.52 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.4 percent to 4,193.30. Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia also fell. India, Malaysia and the Philippines rose.
Markets jumped on Friday when all 17 countries that use the euro agreed to adopt a new fiscal pact meant to prevent a repeat of the financial fiasco that is now sweeping Europe. The pact would see a central European authority oversee their future budgets and impose tighter controls on spending. They also agreed to automatic penalties if countries spend too much.
Other nations that are in the European Union but don't use the euro also indicated they would sign up, with one exception — Britain.
Optimism evaporated Monday when credit rating agencies Moody's and Fitch both said the deal was insufficient and would not materially address the crushing debt loads of some nations or their rising borrowing costs.
Moody's warned that it will review all EU governments' ratings for possible downgrades in early 2012 — a threat that analysts said was particularly worrisome to France, a major contributor to the European Financial Stability Facility, Europe's emergency bailout fund. A downgrade of France's triple A rating could hurt its ability to fulfill its commitments to the fund.
"If France loses its triple A rating, you will have a problem with the EFSF fund, the one that was supposed to be the 'bazooka' in order to buy up bonds issued by peripheral countries," said Tom Kaan of Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong.
Kaan said British Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to reject the proposed EU treaty threw doubts about the plan's workability into the equation.
"The UK veto has basically thrown everything into a little bit of nervousness," Kaan said. "At the end of the day, nothing came about."
High-tech shares slumped, tracking losses by industry bellwether Intel Corp., which fell 4 percent in New York after the chip-maker said its fourth quarter revenue will be lower than expected because flooding in Thailand has disrupted the supply of hard drives.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics lost 1.8 percent and Taiwan's Acer, a major personal computer maker, shed 0.9 percent.
Resource shares fell on tumbling commodities prices sparked by concerns about Europe's ability to resolve its financial problems and stave off what many economists believe is an impending recession.
Australian mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent respectively. Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group, China's largest gold miner, fell 2.1 percent.
Wall Street traded lower Monday. The Dow closed down 1.3 percent at 12,021.39, a loss erased nearly all the Dow's gains from last week. The S&P 500 lost 1.5 percent to close at 1,236.47. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 1.3 percent to 2,612.26.
Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 9 cents to $97.86 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.64 to finish at $97.77 per barrel on the Nymex on Monday.
In currency trading, the euro rose to $1.3196 from $1.3186 late Monday in New York. The dollar was down at 77.86 yen from 77.91 yen.
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