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Asian stocks weak amid new Europe jitters

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(AP Photo/Richard Drew). Trader Robert McQuade works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew). Trader Robert McQuade works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
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By KAY JOHNSON
AP Business Writer

MUMBAI, India (AP) - Asian stock markets were muted Friday, following the lead of Wall Street traders spooked by worries about the soundness of a bank in Portugal that raised the specter of more financial turmoil in Europe.

Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3 percent to 15,176.27 and South Korea's Kospi fell 0.6 percent to 1,999.00. Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.1 percent to 23,260.06 while Taiwan's Taiex shed 0.2 percent to 9,548.18.

The cautious mood was driven by fears that emerged Thursday about the financial stability of Portugal's Espirito Santo International, which reportedly missed a debt payment this week and was cited for accounting irregularities, echoing issues that sparked Europe's debt crisis four years ago.

"News from Portugal dampened risk sentiment," said Hervé Goulletquer, head of market research for Credit Agricole Bank in a commentary.

Elsewhere in Asia, Malaysian stocks were down 0.3 percent to 1,886.89 after the central bank raised its key interest rate for the first time in three years.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 5,498.80. China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.4 percent to 2,141.50.

The renewed Europe jitters dragged down Wall Street on Thursday. The Dow fell 0.4 percent to 16,915.07. The S&P 500 index fell 0.4 percent to 1,964.88 and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.5 percent to 4,396.20.

In Europe, Germany's DAX closed down 1.5 percent at 9,659.13 and the CAC-40 in France fell 1.3 percent to 4,301.26. The FTSE 100 in London ended 0.7 percent lower at 6,672.37.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery was down 13 cents at $102.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 64 cents to $102.93 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro was unchanged at $1.3603. The dollar dropped to 101.25 yen from 101.30 late Thursday.

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