TOKYO, Sept 14 2017 : Asian stocks held steady today, consolidating after touching their highest in a decade and appeared to take in stride a burst of Chinese data which undershot market expectations.
That took some of the shine off a recent string of indicators from China showing surprisingly robust growth, though many analysts expect the world’s second-biggest economy to run at a steady pace.
China’s factory output grew 6.0 percent in August from a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment expanded 7.8 percent in the first eight months, both well below economists’ forecasts, data released today showed. Retail sales for August also undershot expectations.
The Australian dollar, often used as a liquid proxy of China-linked trades, was up 0.1 percent at $0.7995 AUD=D4 and little changed from levels prior to the Chinese data release. A strong Australian jobs report helped prop-up the Aussie.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was effectively flat after rising to its highest since 2007 the day before.
The dollar stood tall, lifted as U.S. Treasury yields climbed to 2-1/2-week highs on an ongoing improvement in broader investor risk sentiment.
The dollar index, a measured against a basket of six major currencies, was at 92.489 after touching 92.530 overnight, its highest since Sept. 5. It had slumped to a 2-1/2-year low of 91.011 on Friday, when Hurricane Irma threatened the continental United States and on North Korea concerns.
Focus returned this week to fundamentals from geopolitical risks and natural disasters, with investors poised for the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) due later in the session and its potential impact on the Federal Reserve’s stance on interest rates.
Expectations for the Fed to hike rates again in 2017 have waned amid sluggish U.S. inflation.
“The dollar would be sold if the CPI turns out to be weak but the main focal point is how the stock market reacts to such an outcome,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
“The U.S. financial sector has benefited from the recent rise in yields. Should yields fall on lacklustre CPI data, that could be used as a pretext to sell U.S. stocks which have already hit successive record highs.”
The dollar set a one-month high of 110.735 yen JPY=. So far this week it has gained 2.5 percent against its Japanese peer, a currency often sought in times of risk aversion.
The pound hit a one-year high of $1.3329 yesterday following strong domestic inflation data, with the currency market braced for the closely-watched Bank of England (BoE)policy meeting due later today. It last stood at $1.3204.
In commodities, crude oil prices dipped slightly after posting a big surge overnight after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said a global surplus of crude was starting to shrink.
Brent crude futures was down 0.2 percent at $55.04 per barrel after reaching a five-month peak of $55.21 the previous day.
U.S. crude slipped 0.2 percent to $49.21 per barrel after rallying 2.2 percent overnight. – Reuters