Hong Kong: Asian stocks outside Japan fell for a fourth day on Wednesday, weighed by resource-related shares and doubts about a global economic recovery, while US Treasuries eased on profit taking after a surge overnight.
Japan’s Nikkei share average outperformed the region, rising 0.9% on bargain hunting after a sharp drop on Tuesday and a shift into defensive sectors.
Major European stock market opened slightly weaker, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 dipping 0.5%, although Wall Street futures were actually up 0.4%.
Oil prices advanced after bouncing off $70 a barrel for a third day, convincing dealers that crude would have difficulty falling much below $70 if the dollar continued to weaken.
Several US economic indicators this week have come in below expectations, raising fears that investors may have pushed up equity and commodity prices too far, too quickly. However, the corrective move lower in equity and commodity prices has been tame, so far.
“The market seems to be bewildered, facing lots of different factors,” said Kazuyuki Kato, treasury department manager at Mizuho Trust and Banking in Tokyo. “And investors are shying away from taking risks after stocks entered a correction phase as optimism for the economy had gone too far,” he said.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.8% and looked set for its fourth consecutive day of losses. The index has now fallen 5.6% from an eight-month high reached two weeks ago.
The materials sector had continued to climb after the broad market began to drift lower after 3 June, along with the energy sector this week has been leading the region lower.
Australian shares fell 1.5% to the lowest close since 1 June, led by miner BHP Billiton and bank stocks.
US markets fell more than 1% overnight as mixed economic data and disappointing sales by top U.S. consumer electronic retailer Best Buy spurred worries about an anaemic recovery.
The uncertain global economic outlook has made some investors convictionless, as they dance through trendless markets, but other investors are sticking to their guns.
“We’ll have corrections along the way, but it’s not a situation in which we have nothing to buy,” said Mark Mobius, who manages around $24 billion in emerging market assets with Templeton Asset Management.
“Given the quantity of money being printed all over the world with the stimulus packages, equities are definitely going to be moving up,” he said in an interview in Vienna.
Mobius said he was finding value in Russian and eastern European shares.
Meanwhile. the US dollar slid against the euro, which rose 0.55% to $1.3908 in thin trade.
Dealers did not spot any trends, but said covering of bets against the euro were largely dominating trade.
Brazil, Russia, India and China after a first summit together issued a joint statement that did not mention any doubts about the dollar’s role as the primary reserve currency, effectively removing that issue as an uncertainty for the market.
The dollar had been under some pressure heading into the summit on fears that Russia, which has publicly made clear it wants to have new world reserve currencies, would coax China into bashing the dollar together.
Besides headlines about the US dollar’s global reserve role, perceptions on risk expressed through equity markets have also been a driver. Fears that price increases have run ahead of fundamentals, particularly with earnings estimates for 2010 in the double digits, have weighed on global stocks.
Commodity markets have been very sensitive to this notion.
US crude oil futures rose above $71 a barrel, snapping a three-day losing streak as the dollar slid. The July contract was up 0.9 percent to $71.10 a barrel after touching a session low of $69.91 earlier.
The American Petroleum Institute data showed late on Tuesday that US crude stocks fell by a smaller-than-expected 1.3 million barrels last week. The US Energy Information Administration will release its inventory data later in the day.