Asia stocks steady after Wall St tech rout, dollar holds gains

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 15, 2017 8:59 PM

By Nichola Saminather

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian stocks were steady on Friday, appearing to take in stride the resumption of the U.S. technology rout overnight, while the dollar held near a two-week high after solid economic data backed the case for tighter U.S. monetary policy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was flat, on track to end the week down 0.7 percent.

Japan's Nikkei <.N225> jumped 0.5 percent, narrowing its loss for the week to 0.4 percent.

Overnight, the Nasdaq <.IXIC> led losses on Wall Street with a 0.5 percent drop, dragged lower by shares including Apple <.AAPL.O> and Alphabet <GOOGL.O> that tumbled on bearish analysts' reports. The S&P 500 technology index <.SPLRCT> also declined 0.5 percent.

The broader S&P 500 index <.SPX> fell 0.2 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> slipped 0.1 percent.

"It was a brutal day for the tech sector once again as investors are increasingly more worried about the (Federal Reserve) tightening cycle and how that would put a number of firms in trouble," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets in London, wrote in a note.

"The tech boom has been on the back of easy money and lower interest rates. Both of them are leaving town."

South Korea's KOSPI <.KS11> shook off the U.S. woes to inch higher, with the biggest company, Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> jumping 0.5 percent early on Friday.

The second biggest firm, semiconductor concern SK Hynix <000660.KS>, climbed 1.5 percent to a 15-year high.

Analysts have attributed the outperformance of Asian technology company shares to their lower valuations relative to U.S. peers.

In currencies, the dollar remained near a two-week high hit overnight after data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment fell more than expected last week.

A better-than-expected business conditions survey for June also bolstered the case for Fed tightening this year.

The dollar index <.DXY>, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, inched up almost 0.1 percent, extending Thursday's 0.5 percent gain. It's on track for a 0.2 percent rise this week.

The dollar was also marginally higher at 110.98 yen <JPY=D4>, adding to Thursday's 1.2 percent jump, poised to end the week 0.6 percent higher.

"There is certainly an elevated risk (USD outperformance) materializes and if trading is, by and large, a play on probability I would be looking at USD longs with increased convictions," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.

"Of course, today's Bank of Japan meeting (no set time) poses a risk, but little is expected in the way of catalysts, although we have seen some commentary of late from BoJ members and a focus on its 'exit strategy'."

The Bank of Japan is expected to leave monetary policy unchanged and signal confidence in a strengthening economy, as a tightening job market and solid global demand support a view that a recovery is gaining momentum.

Sterling <GBP=> added 0.1 percent to $1.277. On Thursday, it jumped to as high as $1.28 on signs of a shift in the Bank of England's stance on keeping interest rates at record lows, but fell back to close flat.

In commodities, oil was lower on continued worries over rising U.S. gasoline inventories adding to already elevated global supply.

U.S. crude <CLc1> fell 0.1 percent to $44.39 a barrel, remaining near Thursday's six-week low, on track for a 3.1 percent drop for the week.

Global benchmark Brent <LCOc1> also slipped 0.1 percent to $46.86, set to end the week 2.7 percent lower.

Gold <XAU=> crept higher following Thursday's 0.6 percent drop on the dollar's strength. It was marginally higher at $1,254.25 an ounce early on Friday, but still poised to close the week with a 0.9 percent loss.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)