HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian shares mostly fell Thursday as China released data showing inflation remained tepid in August while the dollar broke the 107 yen barrier for the first time in six years.
The pound rallied on easing concerns about Scotland’s independence vote and hawkish comments from the governor of the Bank of England on interest rates.
Tokyo climbed 0.76 per cent, or 120.42 points, to finish at an eight-month high of 15,909.20. However, Sydney fell 0.51 per cent, or 28.18 points, to 5,546.1 and Seoul, which was closed from Monday to Wednesday for a public holiday, eased 0.74 per cent, or 15.25 points, to 2,034.16.
Shanghai ended 0.29 per cent lower, giving up 6.63 points to 2,311.68 while Hong Kong slipped 0.17 per cent, or 42.72 points, to 24,662.64.
China said inflation hit 2.0 per cent in August, a four-month low and well below the government’s 3.5 per cent annual target. It also missed the median estimate of 2.2 per cent in a survey of 15 economists by the Wall Street Journal.
The figures come at a time of concern over China’s economy as the effects of steps taken earlier this year to prop up slowing growth have waned and worries intensify over the potential for a bust in the property sector.
The losses came despite a healthy lead from Wall Street.
The Dow added 0.32 per cent and the S&P 500 tacked on 0.36 per cent, while the Nasdaq rose 0.75 per cent.
The positive outlook helped the dollar push above the 107 yen mark briefly, levels it has not seen since September 2008 during the financial crisis.
In afternoon Tokyo trade the dollar eased slightly and stood at 106.90 yen, from 106.85 yen in New York.
The euro bought $1.2929 and 138.23 yen, compared with $1.2916 and 138.02 yen in New York.
The pound was looking healthier on Thursday, buying $1.6240, well up from the 10-month low of $1.6078 touched earlier this week.
The unit sank in response to an opinion poll on the upcoming Scottish independence referendum showing for the first time a majority of people in favour of leaving the United Kingdom.
However, a new survey showed the “No” to independence campaign had restored its lead, soothing concerns about the economic impact of Britain fragmenting.
Also lending support were comments from Bank of England chief Mark Carney suggesting it could hike interest rates as soon as early 2015, citing the country’s solid economic recovery.
“You can expect interest rates to begin to increase,” Carney said, adding that the bank’s forecasts show that hiking rates by the spring of 2015 would allow it to meet its jobs growth and inflation targets.
On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery eased 24 cents to $91.43 while Brent crude for October fell 40 cents to $97.64 in afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,248.00 an ounce, against $1,253.47 late Wednesday.