TOKYO, March 7 2019 : Asian shares rose marginally in early trade today, with caution prevailing as investors awaited some kind of resolution to Sino-U.S. trade negotiations, while the euro remained under pressure ahead of the European Central Bank meeting.
Japan’s Nikkei average fell 0.6 percent, while Australian shares added 0.2 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.1 percent in early trade. It was not far from its five-month high marked last week and was up 10.4 percent year-to-date.
Overnight, Wall Street’s main indexes fell for a third session, with the S&P 500 posting its biggest one-day decline in a month, as investors sought reasons to buy after the market’s strong rally to start the year.
“For some time, markets had been pricing in good news, namely that the talks between the U.S. and China will likely go well,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management. “Now markets are having a pause.”
Other U.S. data yesterday suggested some slowing in the labor market, though the pace of job gains remains more than enough to drive the unemployment rate down.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 183,000 in February after surging 300,000 in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private payrolls advancing 189,000 in February.
The government’s more comprehensive employment report for February is scheduled for release tomorrow.
Also weighing on investor sentiment were broader concerns about growth after the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development cut forecasts again for the global economy in 2019 and 2020.
Investors are now looking ahead to the ECB’s board meeting later today. The central bank is expected to slash growth forecasts and give its strongest signal yet that fresh stimulus is coming in the form of more cheap loans.
In the currency market, the euro traded at $1.1312, hovering near a two-week low on expectations that the ECB could suggest offering cheap long-term loans for banks.
The loans, known more formally as Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTROs), are expected to boost troubled euro zone lenders.
The dollar eased 0.1 percent to 111.62 yen, moving further away from Tuesday’s 2-1/2-month peak of 112.135, while the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six of its peers, barely moved.
The Canadian and Australian dollar sank to two-month lows on Wednesday as traders scaled back holdings on expectations policy-makers would leave interest rates alone in the foreseeable future or even lower them to counter their softening economies.
Adding to the Aussie’s woes today was data showing local retailers suffered another bleak month in January, in a sign overall economic momentum was slowing.
U.S. oil prices were lower and Brent prices edged up after data from the Energy Information Administration showed an unexpectedly sharp build in U.S. crude inventories, but a third weekly drawdown in gasoline stocks kept losses at bay.
U.S. crude futures stood at $56.11 per barrel, down 0.2 percent, in early Asian trade. They hit a 3-1/2-month high of $57.88 on last Friday. – Reuters