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Asian shares struggle as European woes, Saudi concerns dim mood

Asian shares struggle as European woes, Saudi concerns dim mood
October 23, 2018
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares edged lower on Tuesday as earnings season nerves in the US dented Wall Street, while a cocktail of negative factors from Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic isolation to concerns over Italy’s budget and Brexit talks depressed sentiment. That rolled back some of the previous session's strong rally led by China stimulus hopes, with the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropping 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei  fell 1.25 percent. US stock futures ESc1 dropped 0.5 percent in early Asian trade. The S&P 500 lost 0.43 percent as investors kept a wary eye on earnings amid global growth worries. Enthusiasm over some of the upbeat results was also tempered by the growing political uncertainty around the world. “In short, the world seems to be getting into a chaos,” said Akira Takei, bond fund manager at Asset Management One. Earlier, US President Donald Trump said that he was still not satisfied with what he has heard from Saudi Arabia about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Turkey. Trump has expressed reluctance to punish the Saudis economically. But while Saudi Arabia has sought to shield its powerful crown prince from the killing, many officials have cast doubt on Riyadh’s narrative. Several countries, including Germany, Britain, France and Turkey, have pressed Saudi Arabia to provide all the facts. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he will release information about the investigation in a speech on Tuesday. Any signs of instability in the kingdom, a major oil producer as well as a big investor in financial markets, could have wide-ranging repercussions. “I would think this issue could drag on for some time,” said Asset Management One’s Takei. In Europe, the European Commision will decide on Tuesday the next steps in the procedure for assessing Italy’s 2019 draft budget, which has come in for sharp criticism from the EU as it breached its rules. The euro traded at $1.1466 , having lost 0.44 percent the previous day to edge near its Oct. 9 low of $1.14325, its lowest level since mid-August. Although Italian bond prices rose on relief after Moody’s did not slap on a negative outlook as the market had feared, investor concerns were palpable in European stock markets. France's CAC closed at the lowest level in more than a year while Italian shares .MIBTEL hit 1-1/2-year lows and Spanish shares  ended at their weakest level since late 2016. The British pound stood at $1.2965, hovering just above this month's low of $1.2922 on fears the Irish border issue and disagreements within Britain's ruling Conservatives over Brexit could see Prime Minister Theresa May face a serious leadership challenge. The yen  eased to 112.82 per dollar, touching its lowest levels in about two weeks. Oil prices were little changed, with WTI CLc1 trading at $69.86 per barrel, up 0.2 percent and off two-month low of $68.27 touched.