HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets slipped on profit-taking Thursday following the previous day’s hefty gains while there was little positive reaction after a closely watched indicator showed a slight pick-up in Chinese manufacturing activity.
The dollar edged higher following a surprising rise in US inflation while the euro edged up after falling on speculation that the European Central Bank will widen its bond-buying programme.
Tokyo fell 0.37 per cent, or 56.81 points to 15,138.96, while Seoul lost 0.27 per cent, or 5.32 points, to end at 1,931.65 and Sydney edging marginally lower, easing 2.77 points to 5,383.1.
Shanghai sank 1.04 per cent, or 24.14 points, to 2,302.42 and Hong Kong lost 0.30 per cent, or 70.79 points, to close at 23,333.18.
Regional markets have enjoyed a mostly positive run since Monday as concerns eased over the global economy that fuelled a sell-off last week.
Shares opened in negative territory as traders cashed in recent gains. Buying sentiment was lifted briefly by a rise in HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers index of manufacturing activity but it was unable to take shares out of the red.
The bank said its PMI hit 50.4 in October, up from 50.2 in September, indicating activity is picking up and soothing some concerns about the world’s number two economy. Anything above 50 indicates growth and a figure below points to contraction.
The result comes days after Beijing released data showing the economy grew at its slowest pace since the start of 2009 – during the global financial crisis – although it was still at a quicker rate than expected.
US shares tacked lower on Wednesday after running up three days of big gains, helped by easing global fears as well as broadly positive corporate earnings.
The Dow sank 0.92 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.73 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.83 per cent.
But the dollar enjoyed a pick-up in New York after US consumer prices rose 0.1 per cent in September, beating expectations for a 0.2 per cent dip. The result eased worries about deflation and would tend to point to higher interest rates, which support the dollar.
The greenback rose in US trade to 107.44 yen from 106.90 yen earlier in the day in Asia. On Thursday in Tokyo it bought 107.25 yen.
Rumours that the European Central Bank (ECB)could step up its monetary stimulus, including by buying corporate bonds, weighed on the euro.
A member of the ECB’s decision-making governing council, Belgium National Bank chief Luc Coene, said Wednesday that several colleagues had mentioned the idea of buying corporate bonds but that it had yet to be seriously discussed.
The euro fetched $1.2661 and 136.05 yen in Asia Thursday compared with $1.2643 and 135.46 yen. But the single currency is still well down from $1.2820 and 136.54 yen seen earlier in the week.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was flat at $80.52 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent crude was down 16 cents at $84.55.
Gold was at $1,240.97 an ounce against $1,248.88 late Wednesday.