Asian shares edged lower on Thursday as mixed regional data and overnight declines on Wall Street prompted investors to take profits, while the dollar held steady as expectations for a rise in U.S. interest rates were strengthened by buoyant home sales.
Financial spreadbetters expected Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE to open around 0.4 percent higher, Germany’s DAX .GDAXI 0.3 percent higher, and France’s CAC 40 .FCHI to open around 0.4 percent.
South Korea’s economy recorded its weakest expansion in six years in the second quarter, battered by a deadly virus outbreak and poor exports, while Japan reported strengthening export growth in June but concern remained over how shipments to China might be affected by its slowing economy.
The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS slipped 0.2 percent but was holding well above a near 1-1/2 year low hit on July 8.
Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.4 percent, helped by a weaker yen, while Australian shares .AXJO were off 0.2 percent.
Capital flow trends suggest money managers are slowly turning more bullish towards the region’s growth prospects within the broader emerging market bloc.
Equity and bond inflows turned positive for the week of July 15 in Asia while Latin America posted yet another week of redemptions from both these asset classes, according to EPFR data compiled by BNP Paribas.
“Asia remains one of the bright spots in the global economy with China and India remaining committed to a broader economic reforms agenda,” said Kenneth Akintewe, a portfolio manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, which has $490.8 billion in assets under management globally.
China stocks extended their recovery on Thursday from last month’s collapse, with the Shanghai Composite index .SSEC set to rise for a sixth consecutive session, led by gains in blue chips. The Hong Kong market .HSI also advanced.
Stock markets were subdued by disappointing earnings from global tech giants, led by Apple (AAPL.O) whose shares plunged overnight, a day after the iPhone maker gave a fourth quarter revenue forecast that was below market expectations.
Microsoft (MSFT.O) also slumped after reporting its biggest quarterly loss.
In currencies, the dollar nudged up 0.1 percent to 124.05 yen JPY= after rebounding overnight from a low of 123.27 thanks to a rise in U.S. home sales to a 8-1/2 year peak.
The euro was little changed at $1.09360 EUR= after coming off an overnight peak of $1.0966.
Weaker commodity prices also supported a mild rebound in the dollar. Brent crude prices extended their decline after losing 1.6 percent LCOc1 on Wednesday after data showed U.S. crude inventories rose last week, while spot gold XAU= slid to a five-year low on the dollar’s bounce. [O/R] [GOL/]
“Sentiment towards commodities as a whole has been plummeting as the Fed lift-off timeline narrows and the drive to the dollar returns after six weeks of macro turmoil,” Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote.
The drop in commodity prices has hurt commodity currencies such as the Canadian dollar, which held near a six-year low of C$1.3053 CAD=D4 against the U.S. dollar overnight.
The Canadian dollar and other commodity currencies could weaken even more if the U.S. Federal Reserve begins hiking interest rates as early as September.
The New Zealand dollar, which also probed multi-year lows recently against the U.S. currency, fared a little better after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand delivered a smaller interest rate cut than some in the market had expected and softened its rhetoric on the kiwi following its recent, dramatic fall.
The kiwi NZD=D4 firmed as high as $0.6654, recovering from a six-year trough of $0.6498 hit last week.