Asian shares hesitant after Wall Street sell-off, dollar buoyant


SYDNEY : Asian shares were subdued on Thursday after Fitch downgraded U.S. sovereign debt sparking profit-taking, with investors now shifting focus to Bank of England’s rate decision and earnings from Apple and Amazon.

Both S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures added 0.2 per cent, following a heavy wave of selling on Wall Street overnight.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 per cent, having also suffered a colossal drop of 2.3 per cent just a day earlier. That compared with a 5.4 per cent monthly gain in July.

Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.1 per cent, bringing the losses so far in August to 2.5 per cent, giving back some of the 7.5 per cent surge seen a month earlier.

The yield on 10-year Japanese government bonds (JGB) rose to 0.65 per cent on Thursday, the highest since April 2014, after the Bank of Japan loosened its grip on yield curve control last week.

Chinese blue chips were 0.2 per cent higher while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was mostly flat. A private survey showed China’s services activity expanded at a faster place in July.

“I reckon that even though you could argue that the Fitch downgrade is outdated … I think you’ve seen enough movements for some things to be burned and some questions to be asked at these highs,” said Matt Simpson, a market analyst at City Index in Brisbane.

“I reckon at best you probably could look at some choppy trade around these highs or at worst we can have a bit of a deeper pullback.”

Overnight, Nasdaq and S&P 500 posted their biggest declines since February and April, respectively, after a blistering July driven by better-than-expected earnings and hopes of a soft landing for the U.S. economy.

Later in the day, Apple is expected to report the largest third-quarter drop in revenues since 2016 as sales of iPhones slow. Inc, a bellwether for consumer spending, is expected to report a more than 8 per cent rise in second-quarter revenue, aided by a recovery in the advertising and e-commerce businesses.

Risk sentiment has been tempered by higher long-term U.S. yields after stronger-than-expected private employment data and the announced refunding of the U.S. government’s maturing debt.

U.S. 10-year yields hovered at 4.0856 per cent in Asia, just a touch below a nine-month top of 4.1260 per cent hit overnight. 30-year yields were up 2 basis points at 4.1847 per cent, nearing the highest level since November.

The U.S. dollar was buoyant in Asia at a one-month high of 102.63 against its major peers, after the strong private payrolls data added to signs of labour market resilience in the U.S. The closely-watched U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is due on Friday.

The risk-sensitive Australia dollar snapped a key support level to hover at $0.6532, just a touch above its 2023 low of $0.6459.

The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates later in the day. Most economists expect the central bank to hike by a quarter-point to a 15-year high of 5.25 per cent, but the risk is a repeat of June’s surprise half-point increase., which could fuel bets that major central banks are not done tightening yet.

Overnight, Brazil’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rates for the first time in three years and by a larger-than-expected 50 basis points, marking the start of an easing cycle in emerging markets now that U.S. rates have likely peaked.

Elsewhere, oil prices were marginally higher as markets weighed bullish U.S. inventory data and a likely extension of OPEC+ output cuts. Brent crude futures were up 0.2 per cent at $83.33 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.1 per cent to $79.6.

Gold prices edged up 0.1 per cent to $1,936.19 per ounce.


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