Asian equities fell on Friday as Greece failed again to reach an agreement with its creditors and stumbled towards a default, while major currencies like the euro and dollar drifted in narrow range as the debt saga sidelined investors. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS slipped 0.6 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei .N225 dipped 0.5 percent. Despite household spending rising more than expected, inflation has remained flat, keeping alive expectations for more central bank stimulus later this year. Volatile Chinese stocks, which often march to their own drum beat, tumbled more than 4 percent at one point in early trade as the market struggled to digest a flood of IPOs, tighter cash supply and confusion about government and central bank policy direction. [.SS]
Australian shares .AXJO lost 1.5 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi .KS11 bucked the trend and gained 0.3 percent. Last-ditch talks by euro zone finance ministers will resume on Saturday to either avert a Greek default next week – Athens has to repay the International Monetary Fund 1.6 billion euros ($1.79 billion) on Tuesday – or start preparing for a “Plan B” to protect the euro zone from financial market turmoil.