Asian shares subdued as global bond sell-off eases; sterling rises
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares barely moved on Wednesday after world stocks hit eight-week lows the previous day on worries about global economic growth, although the British pound stayed firm on hopes for a Brexit deal.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was flat, while Japan’s Nikkei average fell 0.4 percent and the Australian benchmark was up just 0.1 percent.
In China, mainland’s benchmark Shanghai Composite shed 0.2 percent in choppy trade and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.3 percent.
“As uncertainty continues to prevail in financial markets across the world, many investors are staying on the sidelines until more clarity emerges in U.S. Treasury and Chinese markets,” said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments.
Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR touched a 7-1/2-year peak of 3.261 percent and those on 30-year bonds US30YT=RR hit their highest in more than four years, but later fell back.
Some traders say comments on Tuesday by US President Donald Trump helped cool Treasuries yields. He said the Federal Reserve was going too fast in raising rates when inflation was minimal and government data pointed to a strong economy.
Italian government bond yields also fell from multi-year highs after Economy Minister Giovanni Tria pledged to do whatever is necessary to restore calm if market turbulence turns into a financial crisis.
On stock markets, Wall Street showed a mixed picture, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.21 percent while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were little changed.
The MSCI All-Country World index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 47 countries, hit the lowest level since August 16 overnight. It last traded up 0.1 percent on the day.
The International Monetary Fund cut global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019, as well as its U.S. and China estimates for next year, saying the two countries would feel the brunt of the impact of their trade war next year.
The dollar dipped due to a fall in U.S. bond yields after touching a seven-week peak against a basket of currencies. The dollar index .DXY last traded flat at 95.586.
“We can’t be too optimistic about the Brexit process, because even if a deal can be struck at an anticipated special EU summit in November, it has to get through the British Parliament,” said Kengo Suzuki, chief FX strategist at Mizuho Securities.
The offshore yuan rose 0.1 percent to 6.9236 after falling earlier this week to as low as 6.9371 to the dollar, its weakest since mid-August.
Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday after the IMF lowered its global growth forecasts but prices were somewhat supported as Hurricane Michael churned towards Florida, causing the shutdown of nearly 40 percent of US Gulf of Mexico crude output.
US crude CLcv1 oil futures dropped 0.5 percent to $74.61 a barrel and Brent crude LCOc1 futures eased 0.2 percent to $84.80 a barrel.
Gold prices XAU= stood flat as investors remained cautious after US Treasury yields hit then retreated from multi-year highs.