Hong Kong - Asian markets were mixed in tentative trade on Thursday, with bargain hunters moving in after recent losses while fears over Spanish and Greek debt returned to the fore.
As violent anti-austerity protests broke out on the streets of Madrid and Athens, investor concerns mounted that the market euphoria from this month's central bank stimulus announcements had evaporated.
Tokyo was flat by the break, Hong Kong added 0.62%, Sydney eased 0.10%, Shanghai added 0.50% and Seoul was 0.15% higher.
After a month of calm that saw the European, US and Japanese central banks unveil plans to boost economic growth, focus has returned to the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and in particular Spain and Greece.
In Madrid thousands of protestors rallied near parliament for a second straight night after as the government prepares to pass its 2013 austerity budget on Thursday, with €39bn in savings.
The trouble came as the country's borrowing costs broke back above six percent and towards the seven percent danger level seen as unsustainable.
With the passage of the budget Spain should be able to apply for much-needed bailout cash from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, which will open the door for the ECB to begin buying bonds.
However, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refused so far to ask for help until he knows what the conditions are - a situation that has left dealers in limbo.
Meanwhile in Athens police and masked youths clashed during a general strike in protest at a new round of austerity introduced as it tries to unlock the next batch of cash from a rescue package that is needed to pay wages and bills.
"The main focus for investors globally is once again Europe, with Greece and Spain remaining the main concerns," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore.
"Neither seems able to do enough to put its house and mountains of debt in order, and most developments have not appeased markets for long," he said in a market commentary.
"Despite all that has been promised so far by the ECB (European Central Bank) and the moves forward by politicians, we seem to be as far as ever from the end game for the eurozone crisis."
Despite troubles the euro managed to hold up. In early trade it bought $1.2874 and ¥100.02, compared with $1.2870 and ¥100.04 late on Wednesday in New York.
The dollar changed hands at ¥77.69, against ¥77.70.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November was up 39 cents to $90.37 a barrel in morning trade after closing late Wednesday below $90 a barrel for the first time since August 2.
Brent North Sea crude for November delivery gained 29 cents to $110.33.
Gold was at $1 755.60 at 02:00 GMT compared with $1 763.60 on Wednesday.
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