JAPAN : Asia slips after Wall St loses steam, dollar clings to gains
Wed Jul 20 2016
Jim Andrews (461 articles)

JAPAN : Asia slips after Wall St loses steam, dollar clings to gains

TOKYO : Asian stocks stepped back early on Wednesday after a record run on Wall Street showed signs of petering out, while the dollar hovered near a four-month high against a basket of currencies following upbeat U.S. data.

Global risk appetite, which has recovered rapidly from the Brexit shock late in June, received a sobering reminder after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth forecasts for the next two years on Tuesday, citing uncertainty over Britain’s looming exit from the European Union.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.1 percent, putting some distance between a nine-month high struck late last week.

South Korea’s Kospi .KS11 lost 0.3 percent and Japan’s Nikkei .N225 fell 0.7 percent, on track to snap a six-day winning streak. Australian shares bucked the trend and rose 0.4 percent.

“The U.S. dollar is proving to be a big winner in a period when central banks around the world are talking about easing,” wrote Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management.

“That leaves the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada as the lone soldiers standing ground on steady policy. We haven’t seen significant strength in the Canadian dollar, partly because oil prices have been falling but the U.S. dollar is seeing nice momentum.”

The S&P 500 .SPX pulled back from record highs on Tuesday, while the Dow industrials .DJI edged up for an eighth straight day of gains, as investors pondered mixed earnings reports. [.N]

The dollar index, a gauge of the greenback’s strength against a basket of key currencies, stood at 97.097 .DXY, after touching a four-month peak of 97.158. Tuesday’s stronger-than-expected June U.S. housing starts data has given the dollar a lift.

The dollar traded at 105.89 yen JPY= after touching a one-month high of 106.53 overnight. Expectations that the Bank of Japan would ease monetary policy later this month have weighed on the yen. The euro was steady at $ 1.1009 EUR after slipping to a three-week trough of $ 1.1000.

The Australian dollar stood nearly flat at $ 0.7504 AUD=D4 after falling 1.1 percent on Tuesday, when it was dragged down by a New Zealand dollar weakened by growing speculation that the country’s central bank it will cut rates in August.

Fed funds futures rates show investors see almost a 50/50 chance that the U.S. central bank raises rates by its December meeting, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool, compared with less than 20 percent a few weeks ago.

Geopolitical risks also loom as a factor for markets. The Turkish lira TRYTOM=D3 came under renewed pressure and fell to its lowest level since last September amid reports of a widening purge in Turkey after an abortive coup last week.

U.S. crude CLc1 slipped 0.2 percent to $ 44.58 a barrel after falling more than 1 percent on Tuesday, as a rallying dollar and a global fuel glut offset forecasts for lower U.S. crude stockpiles that typically would have been bullish for the market.

Elsewhere in commodities, profit taking nudged nickel CMNI3 away from a 10-month high reached overnight amid persistent concerns over a Philippines mining crackdown. Zinc CMZN3 edged up to a 14-month peak on worries over falling mine output.

Jim Andrews

Jim Andrews

Jim Andrews is Desk Correspondent for Global Stock, Currencies, Commodities & Bonds Market . He has been reporting about Global Markets for last 5+ years. He is based in New York