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Japanese Stock Futures, Australian Shares Fall on Europe Concern

Japanese stock futures and Australian shares fell as growing funding stress in Italy stoked concern Europe is losing its fight to contain the debt crisis.

American depositary receipts of Canon Inc., a camera maker whose biggest market is Europe, fell 1 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo after the euro touched a 10-week low against the yen, dimming the earnings outlook. Those of Komatsu Ltd., the nation’s largest maker of construction equipment, dropped 2.4 percent before a Bank of Japan survey today that may show sentiment among manufactures dropped this quarter. BHP Billiton Ltd., an Australian oil producer, declined 1.7 percent in Sydney after oil prices tumbled.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,420 in Chicago yesterday, down from 8,500 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,430 in Osaka, at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.4 percent in Wellington.

“There’s no visible progress on Europe’s debt crisis,” said Mitsushige Akino, who oversees about $600 million in Tokyo at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. “There are no events that may buoy the mood, and there’s no guarantee that the euro will stop weakening. The euro may drop below 100 yen, compounding the situation for export-related stocks.”

Italy’s Debt Sale

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.1 percent today. The index dropped 1.1 percent in New York yesterday after Italy sold 3 billion euros of five-year notes to yield 6.47 percent, the most since May 1997. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday there’s no quick solution to the debt crisis.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told U.S. senators the Fed plans no additional aid to European, according to two lawmakers who attended the meeting. The Fed this week refrained from adding new measures to boost growth, saying the U.S. economy continues to expand amid the global slowdown.

The Bank of Japan is scheduled to release its quarterly Tankan survey of manufacturer sentiment today at 8:50 a.m. in Tokyo. Sentiment among the country’s large manufacturers probably fell to minus 2 this quarter from 2 the previous quarter, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 18 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 3.6 percent drop by the S&P 500 and a 16 percent loss by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 12.6 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 12.2 times for the S&P 500 and 10.1 times for the Stoxx 600.

Crude oil for January delivery declined $5.19, or 5.2 percent, to $94.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since Nov. 4. The percentage drop is the biggest since Sept. 22.

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