GLOBAL MARKETS-Commodities fall hits Asian markets, oil up

MELBOURNE Wed May 11, 2011 9:10pm EDT

MELBOURNE May 12 (Reuters) - Asian share markets fell on Thursday after a second big sell-off in commodities in less than a week sparked a retreat from riskier investments, including stocks, although oil and silver managed to claw back some of their losses.

Oil prices tumbled over 4 percent on Wednesday after an unexpected rise in gasoline stocks and concerns about slowing demand triggered a rout across the commodities complex that pushed the Reuters/Jeffries CRB index , a broad measure of commodities performance, down 3 percent.

Silver fell 8 percent, dragging down gold. Copper crumbled to its lowest level since December, and the euro fell to a three-week low versus the dollar, hurt also by bubbling concerns about a Greek debt restructure.

Oil prices partly recovered in early Asian trade, with U.S. crude futures CLc1 up 1.3 percent at $99.47 and Brent crude up 1.2 percent at $113.88.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was trading down 0.8 percent by 0050 GMT, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 1.3 percent to a six-week low, and South Korea's Kospi was down 1.4 percent.

Miners such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto led the decline in Australia, while Japan's biggest oil and gas developer Inpex Corp fell 3.0 percent.

The abrupt fall in commodity prices after last week's near-record slump knocked about 1 percent off U.S. stock indices, and boosted the U.S. dollar on safe-haven buying.

The euro fell back to a six-week low against the yen and was little changed in early Asian trade, holding around $1.4218, and at 115.11 against the yen.

Speculation over whether Greece will receive more bailout funding kept risk appetite volatile as investors continued to price in a high probability that the country will eventually need to restructure its debt.

Gold partly retraced its losses in Asia, adding 0.3 percent to $1,504.65 an ounce, while volatile spot silver jumped 2.3 percent after sinking nearly 9 percent in the previous session.

U.S. corn futures extended Wednesday's 4 percent plunge on the expectation of higher near-term stocks.

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blogs.reuters.com/hedgehub (Reporting by Richard Pullin; Editing by Andrew Marshall)

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