Asian stocks fell after the regional equity gauge posted its steepest quarterly advance since 2013. Material and consumer shares led declines. Japan’s Topix Index slipped 0.3 percent. The quarterly Tankan Index for large manufacturers held at 12 in March, the Bank of Japan said today, missing the median estimate of economists for a reading of 14. A positive number means optimists outnumber pessimists. South Korea’s Kospi Index lost 0.2 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.1 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed.
Crude oil prices continued declining as negotiations between Iran and world powers over nuclear technology with potential supply implications dragged on beyond a deadline. Six world powers and Iran negotiated past a March 31 deadline, struggling to conclude an accord on Tehran's nuclear program. The powers want Iran to accept restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of export sanctions. A deal would mean more crude from oil-rich Iran entering an already oversupplied market.
The dollar was steady, holding to sizeable gains against the yen and euro. The euro tumbled 11 percent last quarter as U.S. and euro zone monetary policies diverged, with the Federal Reserve poised to hike interest rates, while the European Central Bank threw itself into quantitative easing. More recently, uncertainty over the Greek debt situation has come to dog the common currency again. The euro was little changed at $1.0742, having shed 0.9 percent overnight. The dollar was steady at 119.98 yen after touching an 11-day high of 120.37 overnight. In commodities, U.S. crude oil was down 0.3 percent at $47.46, after losing 2.2 percent on Tuesday.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery was flat at $1,183.20 a troy ounce. Elsewhere, silver futures for May delivery fell rose 0.17%, to $16.627 a troy ounce. Copper futures for May delivery gained 0.19%, to $2.744 a pound. Overnight, gold futures edged lower on Tuesday, amid a modest uptick in the U.S. dollar on the final day of trading in March, as the precious metal posted its second consecutive monthly loss.