Asian shares in seventh day of falls

  • 05/05/2016
(AAP file)
(AAP file)

European stocks and oil prices have snapped a four-day losing streak and a rally in bond markets fizzled out as investors began to position themselves for US jobs data.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which had fallen 1.2 percent to its lowest level in nearly a month in the previous session, rebounded 0.3 percent as firmer oil prices helped lift the region's big producers.

Asian shares failed to avoid a seventh day of falls but there was a feeling of relief that at least the yen looked to have settled following a searing run this month that has sent it to an 18-month high.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that Japan would act if necessary to weaken the yen, while the dollar has been supported by data which has fanned optimism that the US economy could bounce back after nearly stalling this year.

The US dollar was holding at Y107.10 in European trading, above the recent 18-month trough of Y105.55 but a long way from last week's peak of Y111.88.

The euro changed hands at $US1.1454, having been as high as $US1.1614 this week from a low of $US1.1213 in April.

Against a basket of currencies the US dollar was up 0.3 percent at 93.456.

In commodity markets, industrial metals including copper and iron ore nursed more losses. Oil bounced as a huge wildfire in Canada disrupted oil sands production and escalating fighting in Libya threatened the North African nation's output.

Brent crude was quoted 71 cents higher at $US45.33 a barrel, while US crude added 89 cents to $US44.67.

Bond markets had noticeably cooler feel, having seen one of their sharpest rallies of the year so far over the last week.

Yields on 10-year German Bunds and US Treasury notes edged up to 1.179 and 0.208 percent receptively having both just hit their lowest in two weeks .

The gap between Italian and German government borrowing costs hit its widest level in nine weeks however, after Rome announced an unscheduled bond exchange and investors readied for a series of political events in Europe.

Stalled talks between Greece and its international creditors over financial aid, as well as Spanish elections and Britain's referendum on EU membership next month have led investors to reduce their exposure to riskier assets.

Turkish stocks fell and bond yields surged after officials said overnight the ruling party was set to replace Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at an extraordinary congress in coming weeks.

The decision, confirmed to Reuters by five AK Party officials, came after a meeting of more than 1-1/2 hours between Davutoglu and President Tayyip Erdogan that followed weeks of public tension between the two men.

The lira bounced over 1.4 percent to 1.915 per US dollar in volatile early deals in Istanbul but that was preceded by a three-day pounding that was one of its worst in decades.

The seventh straight dip for Asian shares overnight followed mixed economic data that did nothing to assuage concerns about global growth.

The latest survey from China showed the service sector expanded at a slower pace in April, though firms did resume adding staff.

The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers' index (PMI) dropped to 51.8, from 52.2 in March, but at least stayed in growth territory. Hong Kong's version of the PMI slid into a deeper contraction to touch an eight-month low.

The patchy outcomes left Shanghai stocks flat while trade across the region was stifled by a holiday in Japan.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.3 percent, and has now shed 5 percent in just two weeks.

Wall Street also slipped amid mixed data.

The vast US services sector expanded in April as new orders and employment accelerated, offering hope economic growth would rebound after a sluggish first quarter.

But other figures showed private employers hired the fewest workers in three years, sparking concerns the all-important payrolls report might also disappoint.

Friday's jobs figures are forecast to show a solid gain of 202,000 in April with unemployment steady at 5 percent.

AAP

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