Japanese stocks slide, dollar pinned near eight-month low on US worries
Saturday, 5 October 2013 00:00
REUTERS: Asian stocks were pegged back on Friday, with Japanese shares hitting a near four-week low and the dollar languishing around an eight-month trough as the US budget standoff dragged on, heightening fears it could have more serious repercussions for the world’s largest economy.
Tokyo’s Nikkei fell 0.4% in the morning session after shedding as much as 1.5% to its lowest since 6 September, taking its cue from the US S&P 500 .SPX, which suffered its ninth loss in 11 sessions overnight.
“Market unease will likely remain while the fiscal struggle continues to dominate headlines, especially as the second, and more important, deadline of US default gets closer,” Credit Agricole said in a note to clients.
President Barack Obama met Republican and Democrat leaders in Congress but reiterated in a speech that he would not give in to Republican demands to roll back his healthcare program in exchange for reopening the government.
The debt ceiling is far more important than a partial US Government shutdown, which began on Tuesday, since it could lead to an unprecedented default by the United States; an outcome the market assumes is unthinkable.
BNP Paribas analysts said it was increasingly possible that the standoff in Washington would continue until the debt ceiling deadline on 17 October.
“Market reaction is likely to intensify going into that date however, with the dollar extending its slide versus yen, Swiss franc and the euro,” they wrote in a note. “The silver lining for the dollar is that it is already trading at a sizeable discount relative to short-term rates, suggesting that there will be plenty of scope for the dollar to rally on any positive outcome in Washington.”
The shutdown has caused a delay in the release of the closely-watched nonfarm payrolls data, normally due out on Friday. The data is a key piece of information for the Federal Reserve to consider when deciding to scale back its stimulus.
Two senior Fed officials warned on Thursday of damaging consequences if the country defaults on its debt and said US monetary policy is being kept easier to help offset the harm caused by the political wrangling in the Capitol Hill.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS eased 0.1%. Seoul shares .KS11 slipped 0.3%, though Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. (005930.KS) added 0.6% after the index heavyweight estimated its July-September earnings rose 25% to a record $ 9.4 billion.
The dollar was also hurt by slower growth in the US services sector in September.
The euro was steady at $ 1.3630, not far from an eight-month high of $ 1.36465 touched on Thursday. The common currency was also aided by the European Central Bank’s apparent lack of concern over the euro’s recent strength and better-than-expected euro zone data.
“The euro has become an island of stability in global asset markets. Peripheral yields are higher and more stable than in the US and equity markets keep outperforming,” Citigroup said in a report.
“However, we would emphasize the euro’s rally as a function of improved capital market conditions, rather than fundamentals, and expect it will be fragile if these capital markets conditions change.”
Against a basket of major currencies, the greenback .DXY was near an eight-month trough.
The dollar held at 97.19 yen, after hitting a five-week low of 96.93 on Thursday, as the Bank of Japan stood pat on monetary policy as expected.
The BOJ revised up its assessment on capital expenditure, encouraged by growing signs that the benefits of its stimulus policy are broadening.
Brent crude slipped 0.2% to around $ 108.8 a barrel, adding to a 0.2% decline overnight, as the slower service sector growth in September compounded worries about raw materials demand due to the US budget crisis and government shutdown.
Copper prices stabilised after tumbling 1.3% on Thursday.