Asian markets slip after US data, Wall St loss
HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets were mixed Thursday, with late buying offsetting earlier falls that had been fuelled by losses on Wall Street as US data showed the economy shrank in the final three months of 2012.
The surprise numbers from Washington, the first contraction since mid-2009, saw the dollar weaken further after suffering a sell-off in New York trade.
Tokyo rose 0.22 per cent, or 24.71 points, to 11,138.66 and Shanghai added 0.12 per cent, or 2.95 points, to 2,385.42. But Seoul slipped 0.13 per cent, or 2.49 points, to 1,961.94 and Sydney lost 0.37 per cent, or 17.9 points, to 4,878.8.
Hong Kong shed 0.39 per cent, or 92.53 points, to 23,729.53. Most of the region’s indexes have enjoyed a strong month as dealers grow more confident about the global outlook, with Sydney enjoying its best January since 1994.
Investors were surprised by the US Commerce Department figures showing the world’s biggest economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 per cent in the October-December quarter. Forecasts had been for a one per cent rise.
However, the Federal Reserve, wrapping up a two-day policy meeting, dismissed the contraction as “transitory”, noting the economy had “paused” in recent months. The Fed stayed the course on its ultra-loose monetary policy as expected, saying growth should be moderate moving ahead.
On Wall Street the Dow, which ended Tuesday just short of its all-time high, fell 0.32 per cent, while the S&P 500 shed 0.39 per cent and the Nasdaq slipped 0.35 per cent.
SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi told Dow Jones Newswires: “The (US) numbers will likely be treated as a bit of a one-off, as they masked stronger consumer and business spending and progress in the housing recovery.” On currency markets the greenback bought 90.90 yen in afternoon Asian trade, from 91.05 yen late Wednesday in New York. The US unit is well down from the 91.40 seen earlier Wednesday in Asia.