Asian shares slip, dollar on track for losing week
TOKYO – Asian shares dipped on Friday but was on track for weekly gains while the dollar was poised for a losing week, with investors disappointed that President-elect Donald Trump failed to elaborate on stimulus plans at a news conference two days ago.
Investors largely shrugged off trade data from China. December exports fell by a more-than-expected 6.1 percent from a year earlier, while imports beat forecasts slightly, government data released on Friday showed.
As the world’s largest trading nation, China could come under pressure from protectionist measures this year if Trump follows through on his campaign pledges to brand it a currency manipulator and impose heavy tariffs on the country’s imports.
China is the biggest loser in the anti-globalisation trend, customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters on Friday, and Trump’s policies could limit the country’s export growth. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 percent, after rising to its highest levels since late October in the previous session. It was up 1.8 percent for the week.
On Wall Street, major indexes finished Thursday lower, chilled by Trump’s failure to address economic policy plans at his first news conference since winning the Nov. 8 election. Japan’s Nikkei stock index rose 0.5 percent, but was on track to shed 1.1 percent for the week.
Many investors remained hopeful that markets will get a lift from a wave of financial deregulation that could follow Trump’s inauguration, including a rollback of some of the Dodd-Frank financial reform measures that Congress enacted after the financial crisis and bank bailouts.
“Market weakness at the end of the week may continue, but anticipation of a Dodd-Frank repeal possibility spurs an optimistic outlook,” said Hiroki Allen, chief representative of Superfund Japan in Tokyo.
But this week’s stronger yen dented demand for Japanese shares. The dollar was up 0.3 percent at 115.06 yen after skidding as low as 113.75 on Thursday, its lowest since Dec. 8. It was on track to shed 1.5 percent for the week, with some investors saying the yen’s rise has room to run and others suggesting it might be close to a top.
“It is unlikely that the yen strengthens further against the dollar,” Yukio Ishizuki, FX strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo. “The US Treasuries yield is expected to rise considering rising US inflation expectations.”
The yields on 10-year and 30-year Treasury notes had touched their lowest levels since November early Thursday, but rose again in Friday morning trade in Asia. The 10-year yield stood at 2.385 percent, compared with Thursday’s US close of 2.361 percent. The dollar wallowed around five-week lows against a currency basket, even as the dollar index edged up 0.2 percent to 101.51. It was down 0.7 percent for the week.
The dollar index had scaled 14-year peaks this month, on speculation that Trump’s policies would spur growth and inflation, and prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a faster pace than previously expected.
The euro was steady at $1.0610, well above last week’s 14-year low of $1.0340 and poised to gain 0.8 percent for the week. Crude oil prices extended gains, bolstered by the weaker dollar as well as news that Saudi Arabia has cut oil output to its lowest in almost two years and plans further reductions.
Brent crude rose 0.1 percent to $56.07 a barrel, while US crude added 0.2 percent to $53.09. Spot gold slipped 0.3 percent to $1,191.96 an ounce, as investors locked in gains on its overnight surge to seven-week highs above $1,200.
London copper gained 0.3 percent to $5,860 a tonne, putting it on track for a weekly gain of nearly 5 percent. That would be its biggest weekly advance since late November as expectations of a pickup in global manufacturing and a weaker dollar boosted industrial metals. -Reuters