Asian shares erase losses

  • 11/03/2016

Asian shares are higher, despite US and European market falling after the European Central Bank suggested it was running out of room to cut interest rates even if other stimulus options remained.

The muddled message sent European bond yields surging and snuffed out a nascent rally in risk sentiment overnight, leaving Asian share markets initially at a loss on how to react.

But by afternoon, most markets turned into positive territory, and US S&P 500 e-mini stock futures were up 0.6 percent.

Financial spreadbetters predicted Britain's FTSE 100 to open up as much as 1.1 percent, Germany's DAX to gain one percent, and France's CAC 40 to rise as much as 1.2 percent.

"As a result of yesterday's disappointment, European equity markets could well finish the week lower for the first time since the 11th February lows, though we look set to open higher this morning as a result of US markets pulling off their lows, and a firmer Asia session," Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note to clients.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.8 percent, poised to gain 0.8 percent for the week, while Australia ended up 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei erased earlier sharp losses and ended up 0.5 percent, though still fell 0.4 percent over the week.

Chinese shares lagged the region, weighed down by the banking sector, as Beijing's plan to allow debt-to-equity swaps by commercial lenders was viewed by some investors as being largely negative.

The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.6 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.7 percent in afternoon trade.

China's central bank underlined its commitment to a firm yuan by fixing the currency at the high for this year.

Markets went on a wild ride overnight after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi suggested there were limits to negative rate policy.

"From today's perspective and taking into account the support of our measures to growth and inflation, we don't anticipate that it will be necessary to reduce rates further," proved to be the offending sentence.

Draghi was quick to note that new facts could change the economic outlook and emphasised his willingness to adopt other radical measures, but by then the damage was done.

Euro debt markets moved instantly to price out further easing and pushed up rates across the curve.

At one point, German 10-year yields doubled from a low of 16 basis points to a peak of 32 basis points, a staggering move for a benchmark long-term bond.