Economic news

Asian Shares Rise, Dollar near Three-Week Low

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian shares recovered from earlier losses on Wednesday even as data in several markets suggested global economic growth is slowing, while the dollar inched up from three-week lows.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan turned positive, up 0.32% to its highest since early August, having posted gains in six out of the last seven sessions.

U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, rose 0.29%, and in early European trade, the pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures climbed 0.66% and FTSE futures gained 0.42%.

“It’s all pretty messy across asset classes at the moment. Everyone is talking us into the idea that we are getting closer to a correction, but no one is prepared to trade that...and risk assets grind higher,” said Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne.

Japan’s Nikkei gained 1.1% and reached its highest level since mid-July as some investors speculated political instability in the country was coming to a head.

There were also gains in Chinese blue chips, up 1.76% and in Hong Kong up 0.62% despite China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)showing a contraction in activity for the first time in nearly 18 months, because of COVID-19 containment measures and supply bottlenecks.

“As China maintains its zero tolerance policy for Covid, they will continue to implement these lockdowns wherever there is a small outbreak, so that suggests growth might remain under pressure,” said Carlos Casanova, Asia senior economist at UBP.

He said while markets would react to slowing growth eventually, so far this was being offset by talk of monetary policy easing in China, a rebound in some previously heavily sold tech names sparking more trading activity, and greater clarity around U.S. monetary policy indicating that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates until 2023.

Manufacturing activity in August also expanded at a slower rate in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan as chip shortages and factory shutdowns disrupted production, surveys showed on Wednesday.

Australian shares fell 0.28% after reporting that economic growth slowed in the June quarter, though it still beat expectations.

Fears about slowing growth are not unique to Asia. Wall Street finished marginally lower on Tuesday, after U.S. consumer confidence fell to a six-month low in August as soaring COVID-19 infections and rising inflation dampened the economic outlook.

However, the slightly subdued ending to August failed to detract from a strong monthly performance by the U.S.’ three main indexes, helped by a dovish tone from a speech from Fed Chair Jerome Powell last Friday. [.N]

With Powell having suggested an improvement in the labour market is one major remaining prerequisite for the Fed to taper its asset purchases, much attention is also focused on U.S. payroll data due on Friday.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes gained in Asian hours to stand at 1.3324% compared with the U.S. close of 1.302%, edging into the upper end of the range in which they have traded for the past two months.

In currency markets, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against six rivals, rose marginally having fallen to a three-week low the day before.

Oil gained ahead of an OPEC meeting, where major producers will decide whether to go ahead with their plan to add supply.

U.S. crude rose 0.72% to $68.99 a barrel. Brent crude rose 0.68% to $72.12 per barrel. [O/R]

Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Christopher Cushing nd Jacqueline Wong

Source: Reuters

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