Asian shares mixed as fears over global growth linger

Asian shares were mixed in Wednesday afternoon trade as investor fears over the outlook for the global economy lingered.

The broad MSCI Asia-ex Japan index was largely flat at 523.85, as of 12:39 p.m. HK/SIN.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan declined 0.41 percent in afternoon trade, as shares of automaker Nissan dropped around 4 percent. The Topix index also fell 0.76 percent.

In South Korea, the Kospi was fractionally higher as industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics recover from an earlier slip to rise more than 0.5 percent after announcing on Tuesday that its first quarter earnings would likely fall short of expectations.

Meanwhile, the ASX 200 in Australia declined 0.12 percent, with the sectors mixed.

Shares of Lynas recovered from an earlier slip to rise around 2.1 percent, after the latter rejected a takeover bid by the conglomerate Wesfarmers. For its part, shares of Wesfarmers gained more than 0.4 percent.

The mainland Chinese markets, however, bucked the overall trend as they gained by the morning session’s end. The Shanghai composite added 0.55 percent and the Shenzhen component rose about 0.67 percent. The Shenzhen composite gained 0.381 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also added 0.53 percent.

“The global growth and data concerns that drove the downside moves over the last few days are still with us and investors will be looking for fresh reasons for the market to rally further over the next few sessions,” analysts from Rakuten Securities Australia said in a note.

They added that the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was still looking “relatively volatile” despite steadying overnight.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.90 points to close at 25,657.73, while the S&P 500 finished its trading day higher by 0.7 percent at 2,818.46 — its first gain in three sessions. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.7 percent to close at 7,691.52.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rebounded off lows since December 2017. It was last at 2.4212 percent, as of 12:44 p.m. HK/SIN.

That benchmark rate sat at about 2.42 percent on Tuesday afternoon stateside, about 3 basis points below its session high. The 10-year’s decline caused a so-called yield-curve inversion as the 3-month Treasury bill yield moved above the benchmark rate.

Investors see a yield-curve inversion as a signal that a recession may be on the horizon, so a rise in long-term rates is being viewed as a positive right now.

That came amid the release of weak economic data from the U.S. and around the world as well as a downgraded U.S. economic outlook from the Federal Reserve.

“The risk of a US recession has increased, in large part due to the risk posed from deteriorating sentiment, but we still do not expect a US or global recession in 2019,” Esty Dwek, senior investment strategist at Natixis Investment Managers, said in a Tuesday note.

“We could see further volatility and short-term corrections in equity markets as growth fears reappear, but we continue to expect risk assets to grind higher in the coming months, though not at the January pace,” Dwek said.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.899 after bouncing from lows below 96.6 yesterday.

The Japanese yen, widely viewed as a safe-haven currency, traded at 110.58 against the dollar after seeing lows around 110.6 in the previous session. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7097 after seeing highs above $0.714 yesterday.

The New Zealand dollar dropped to $0.6795 from an earlier high of $0.6914 following the central bank’s decision to keep the benchmark rate at a record low of 1.75 percent, stunning investors as its projections last month showed the cash rate increasing in early 2021.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with the international benchmark Brent crude futures contract adding 0.31 percent to $68.18 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.2 percent to $60.06 per barrel.

Source: CNBC