Weak dollar stokes equity gains, outlook wary

Saturday, 21 May 2011 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

HONG KONG,(Reuters) - The dollar looked set to post its first weekly loss in three weeks as investors increased bets on risky assets like equities on expectations the United States would take a long time to raise interest rates after posting weak economic data.

 While equities and the euro posted small gains on Friday, commodity markets were still finding their feet after sharp drops this month with disappointing U.S. data weighing on sentiment.

 Japanese shares clung to early gains after the Bank of Japan kept interest rates on hold at the end of a two-day policy meeting despite warning that the economy will remain under strong downward pressure for the time being.

Outside Japan, the broader Asian market was  mostly flat, but set to fall for the fourth consecutive week.

 Korean shares were slightly higher while Australian shares dipped, led by miners.

 Technology companies, in particular the Chinese internet sector, might get a look in after LinkedIn’s stellar debut saw its market value more than double in a single day.

 Tencent , China’s dominant internet firm, looks poised to benefit from lofty valuations social media firms are fetching despite its 31 percent gains so far this year, as the stock approaches a record high hit last month.

  Overnight, data showed a slowdown in manufacturing growth in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region and an unexpected dip in existing home sales in April.

 That cemented views that if economic data continues to

disappoint it could delay Fed action until well into 2012 or later, encouraging investors to hunt for yields, especially in Asian fixed income markets.

 Solid responses to recent credit issues have already taken

 the year-to-date volume in the Asian primary market to $44.7 billion, more than half of last year’s record $83.4 billion.

Morgan Stanley has projected the annual tally could end up in excess of $100 billion at the current pace.

 ICICI Bank , India’s second-biggest lender, sold $1 billion in bonds at 295 basis points over US Treasuries, tighter than an initial guidance of above 300 basis points above.

 Emerging market debt funds more than doubled inflows to $223 million in the week of May 18 from the prior period, according to Thomson Reuters Lipper data. In currency markets, the soft patch of U.S. data gave the euro a brief respite after recent heavy selling, with the euro  holding much of its overnight gains versus the dollar.

 Notwithstanding Friday’s small gains, the euro remains around 4 percent below an early May peak of $1.4940 as a rout in commodities spooked investors, prompting the unwinding of dollar-funded bets in risky assets.

 Financial markets remained on edge amid lingering concerns about the possibility of debt restructuring in Greece and before the U.S. Federal Reserve’s bond-buying programme winds down next month

 The 19-commodity Reuters-Jefferies CRB index , a popular gauge for market performance, has steadied after tumbling 9 percent from an April 29 high, while oil  climbed before a contract expiry and spot gold rose on bargain hunting.

 U.S. Treasury yields softened on weak data with the 10-year

U.S. Treasury yield hovering around 3.17 percent, though some analysts warned the market’s six-week rally was near an end.

 Yields have fallen from as high as 3.62 percent on April 8.