HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed Tuesday following big losses the previous day on eurozone uncertainty as voters kicked out the ruling parties of France and Greece in a backlash against austerity.
The euro moved in a tight range as investors digested the results from Sunday, with some analysts suggesting the initial panic, which saw the single currency dive to a three-month low against the dollar, may have been too early.
European problems remained in focus after Greek conservatives failed to form a government, paving the way for anti-austerity leftists to try to form a coalition.
Tokyo climbed 0.69 per cent, or 62.51 points, to 9,181.65, Sydney gained 0.30 per cent, or 13.0 points, to 4,314.3, and Seoul was 0.54 per cent higher, adding 10.57 points to 1,967.01.
But Hong Kong skidded 0.25 per cent, or 51.90 points, to 20,484.75 and Shanghai fell 0.12 per cent, or 2.06 points, to 2,448.88 on disappointment China has not yet reversed tightening measures introduced to cap soaring property prices.
Regional investors sold heavily on Monday after France's Nicolas Sarkozy was ousted by Socialist Francois Hollande, who ran on a platform of spending to boost the country's economy instead of new cuts to tackle its huge deficit.
That came as the two main parties in Greece - the conservative New Democracy and the left-wing Pasok - were heavily beaten in a general election, with those opposed to austerity winning almost 60 per cent support.
On Monday New Democracy failed in its attempt to form a coalition with the anti-austerity Syriza party, which would now be tasked with forming a government itself. The development has opened up the likelihood of fresh elections, adding to uncertainty.
Analysts fear the new leaders in Greece and France will ignore the regional drive to save money and instead spend on services, which will blow out their already huge debts.
However, European markets mostly rose on Monday. In Paris the CAC 40 jumped 1.65 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX 30 climbed 0.12 per cent and Madrid's IBEX 35 jumped 2.72 per cent although Athens plunged 5.37 per cent. London was closed for a public holiday.
In Asia on Tuesday the euro, which was hammered in the region the previous day, reversed its losses.
The unit bought US$1.3021 (S$1.63) and 103.96 yen (S$1.61) in late Tokyo trade, compared with US$1.3052 and 104.28 yen late Monday in New York, although it was still up from the US$1.2954 and 103.22 yen it hit in Asia early Monday.
The dollar bought 79.85 yen, from 79.88 yen.
"The pair (euro against the dollar) unexpectedly failed to drop much overnight despite negative factors for the euro over the weekend," said Osao Iizuka, head of FX trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
"The pair appears to be back in the previous US$1.3000 - US1.3300 range," he told Dow Jones Newswires.
And National Australia Bank said in a note: "Last night's session reflected on the weekend's events and concluded the outcome wasn't so bad."
On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June was down US$1.04 at US$96.90 per barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for June fell 70 cents to US$112.46 in late afternoon.
Gold was at US$1,628.64 an ounce at 0910 GMT, compared with US$1,641.00 late Monday.
In other markets:
- Taipei ended 0.10 per cent higher, adding 7.63 points to 7,545.71. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co fell 1.40 per cent to Tw$84.4 (S$3.58) while leading smartphone maker HTC was 0.22 per cent lower at Tw$450.0.
- Manila gained 0.24 per cent, or 12.53 points, to 5,242.06.
- Wellington rose 0.34 per cent, or 11.93 points, to 3,552.06. Chorus surged 4.3 per cent to NZ$3.17 but Fletcher Building fell 0.3 per cent to NZ$6.22 (S$6.40) and Telecom shed 0.6 per cent to NZ$2.57.