Asian shares wilt after Wall Street slide, dollar firms

Friday, 13 May 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Asian shares fell on Thursday following a dismal session on Wall Street, while the dollar firmed but remained shy of this week’s highs and crude oil gave back some of its recent gains.

The gloom was expected to carry over to Europe, with financial spreadbetters at IG predicting Britain’s FTSE 100 would open down by 0.4%.

Germany’s DAX was seen down by 0.3%, while France’s CAC was expected to open 0.1% lower.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.4%, moving back toward a two-month low touched on Tuesday.

But Japan’s Nikkei stock index erased early losses and ended up 0.4% as the yen slipped. The Nikkei logged its fourth straight rise even as investors digested dismal company earnings forecasts following a period of sustained yen strength which has cut deeply into exporters’ profit outlooks.

“We’re beginning to see that guidance from exporters has been on many occasions quite shocking, forecasting in some cases declines in profit of 20 to 50% in the coming year,” said Stefan Worrall, director of Japan equity sales at Credit Suisse.

Overnight, U.S. share markets suffered their worst day since February following downbeat quarterly retail reports. All of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors fell except for utilities, which gained 0.24%.

Crude oil futures were off lows but still down in Asian trading, after getting a lift overnight when the U.S. crude inventories fell for the first time since March.

U.S. crude slipped 0.1% to $46.17 per barrel after adding 3.5% on Wednesday. Brent crude shed 0.2% to $47.51 after settling up 4.6% overnight and gaining 4.3% in the previous session.

“At this point, investors see oil extending its rally as a sign of improvement in global growth,” said Jennifer Vail, head of fixed-income research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon.

But the weak retail reports offset any lift in sentiment, she said. In light of the murky economic outlook, U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers remain concerned about whether the market could stomach another interest rate hike.

“They (the Fed) really want to raise the policy rate so that they have some flexibility should the domestic economy need it, but given this highly unusual slow-growth environment, it’s been difficult for there to be clear signals that it can digest policy normalisation,” Vail said.

Wall Street’s top banks now see the U.S. central bank’s next hike coming in September, according to a Reuters survey conducted on Friday after a weaker-than-expected rise in U.S. payrolls.

Later on Thursday, the Bank of England is expected to keep rates on hold at a record low of 0.5%, where they have remained for more than seven years.

BOE Governor Mark Carney will tread carefully back into Britain’s debate on whether to leave the European Union, when he sets out the central bank’s latest forecasts.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, edged up 0.1% to 93.918, but remained shy of a two-week high of 94.356 set on Wednesday after investors took profits on the U.S. currency’s recent gains.

The euro edged down 0.1% to $1.1419, while the dollar added 0.5% to 108.92 yen. It had notched a two-week high of 109.37 yen on Wednesday.