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Asian stocks slump as Spain borrowing costs spike

A man walks past a screen displaying stock index outside a local bank in Hong Kong Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Asian stocks wavered on Thursday, looking for direction after a credit ratings agency warning that U.S. banks could be hit hard if Europe's debt crisis spreads beyond financially troubled countries like Greece. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.9 percent to 18,793.28 at the mid-day close. A man walks past a screen displaying stock index outside a local bank in Hong Kong Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Asian stocks wavered on Thursday, looking for direction after a credit ratings agency warning that U.S. banks could be hit hard if Europe's debt crisis spreads beyond financially troubled countries like Greece. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.9 percent to 18,793.28 at the mid-day close. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
By Greg Keller
AP Business Writer / November 17, 2011

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HONG KONG—Asian stocks slumped Friday after a spike in Spanish government borrowing costs added to the uncertainty over Europe's debt crisis and investors braced themselves for China housing data.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.9 percent to 18,459.73 while South Korea's Kospi fell 2.1 percent to 1,838.85. Japan's Nikkei 225 index slid 1.3 percent to 8,367.24.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 declined 1.5 percent to 4,192.50 while mainland China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.6 percent to 2,447.36.

Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and New Zealand also fell.

Events in Europe the day before left investors in Asia with little to be happy about. Spain's government auctioned 10-year government bonds that will see the country paying interest of nearly 7 percent -- the highest rate since 1997 and a level that many economists see as unsustainable.

"Risks remain skewed to the downside until the European debt crisis has a real solution in sight which markets will be willing to bank on," strategists at Credit Agricole CIB said in a note to clients.

Investors are also starting to worry about whether U.S. politicians will be able to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts before a Nov. 23 deadline. A report that the U.S. unemployment situation improved slightly wasn't enough to overcome the gloom.

Markets were also awaiting the release of a Chinese government report on housing prices in the country's once-buoyant housing market.

In New York on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.1 percent to close at 11,770.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 1.7 percent to 1,216.16 and the Nasdaq slid 2 percent to 2,587.99.

Oil prices fell to near $98 a barrel. Benchmark crude for December delivery was down 43 cents at $98.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $3.77 to settle at $98.82 in New York on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro strengthened to $1.3497 from $1.3466 in late trading Thursday. The dollar slipped to 76.93 yen from 76.95 yen.