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Asian shares slip, dollar wallows at 1 month lows

  • Its New Zealand peer was upbeat at $0.7147, a level not seen since March 23.
Published April 15, 2021

SYDNEY: Asian shares slipped on Thursday dragged down by Chinese stocks as recent upbeat economic data raised fears of monetary policy tightening, while the dollar index struggled near one-month lows.

Futures for Eurostoxx 50 and Germany's DAX started in negative territory while those for London's FTSE were a tad higher. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.2%.

The mood was less positive in Asia where most major indexes were in the red.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1% after two straight days of gains. It was last at 690.12, a long way from a record high of 745.89 touched in February.

Japan's Nikkei pared early gains to finish 0.07% higher while New Zealand's benchmark index fell 0.9%.

Chinese shares stumbled with the blue-chip CSI300 index down 0.9% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropping 0.8%.

JPMorgan Asset Management said in a note it was trimming its overall Emerging Markets (EM) exposure "mostly driven by a less sanguine outlook on EM Asia."

"China has now recovered enough that policymakers can afford to be more conservative and worry more about containing debt and property market risks," its global multi-asset strategist Patrik Schowitz wrote in a note.

"That will be a headwind to China equities, despite the solid economy."

Global shares have surged in recent weeks led by successful rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, US stimulus packages and higher US inflation expectations.

However, a recent, sharp pick-up in US Treasury yields has "begun to exert a valuation test on some parts of the global equity markets with value outperforming growth," Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

"Equally, there are fewer stocks offering decent yields and higher capital gains."

JPMorgan Asset Management's Schowitz said he was less keen on tech shares, which should have less upside to earnings expectations in the near term and are "very expensive" relative to value.

Wall Street ended mixed on Wednesday with the tech sector the biggest underperformer after the largest bitcoin exchange Coinbase was sold off on its listing day, dragging the Nasdaq lower.

Coinbase's listing coincided with a record price for Bitcoin, which rose to just under $65,000 but the euphoria proved to be short-lived as the stock fell nearly 20% from its opening level to trade at $328.

In currencies, the US dollar was on track for a fourth consecutive day of decline against its major counterparts with the Federal Reserve reiterating that interest rates will stay low for some while yet.

Forex investors are keeping an eye on Treasury yields for direction with a potential market panic about accelerating inflation seen as the biggest risk to sentiment.

Major policymakers, including the Federal Reserve, have repeatedly said there is still plenty of labour market slack to keep inflation in check for several years though there might be temporary spikes which they are willing to overlook.

The assurance has helped stabilise bond markets for now, though jitters remain that the Fed could change tack later this year if inflation readings swing higher than expected.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar slipped for a fourth day to 108.90.

The euro was flat at $1.1977 as was sterling at $1.3776.

The Australian dollar hovered near three-week highs at $0.7716 after posting its biggest one-day percentage gain since Feb. 19 on Wednesday.

Its New Zealand peer was upbeat at $0.7147, a level not seen since March 23.

The US dollar was 1.7% higher on the Russian rouble on a Reuters report the United States will announce sanctions on Russia as soon as

Thursday for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities.

Brent crude was up 2 cents at $66.60 a barrel. US crude slipped 5 cents to $63.1.

Gold was 0.4% higher at $1,741.8 an ounce.


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