Tokyo: Asian shares fell on Monday, pulling further back from eight-month highs hit earlier this month, as investors fretted over whether the global economy had improved enough to justify another rally.
Investors bought back the dollar as a drop of more than $1 in oil prices, which had hit eight-month highs last week, prompted profit-taking in commodities-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar.
Traders and analysts said a meeting of Group of Eight (G8) finance ministers at the weekend contained few surprises, adding that they were now focusing on forthcoming US economic data for further confirmation recession is easing as well as whether US bond yields will stabilise or come down.
European stocks are expected to be mixed as a drop in commodity prices dents recent strong investor appetite for resource-related stocks.
Asian stocks were taking a breather after rallying more than 60% since early March, said Daisuke Uno, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.
“While there is a sense of optimism, there are also questions about whether economic indicators have really recovered to where they were before.”
Investors worried that demand was still too weak and feared higher borrowing costs for consumers and businesses may hold back a recovery in the United States.
Highlighting doubts, an influential economist said China’s economy will not experience a rapid recovery because it will take time to find a new growth engine to replace sagging exports.
Li Yang, a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, said in remarks published on Monday he expected the world economy would need at least five years to fully get over the current recession.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan fell 1.8% to 327.01 as of 11:32am, pulling away from a 2009 high of 337.68 hit in early June that was its best level since late September.
G8 finance ministers said in a statement after a weekend meeting they believe their economies are stabilising but recovery from the credit crisis remains shaky.
The finance ministers said they had started to consider how to unwind the drastic steps taken to fight the credit crisis once an economic recovery becomes certain, but the United States and others warned there must be firmer signs of recovery before any of the public stimulus for the economy is withdrawn.
Japan’s Nikkei share average closed down 1% at 10,039.67 after closing above 10,000 on Friday for the first time in eight months, hit by slides in chipmakers such as Tokyo Electron as investors sought to lock in profits.
“A general feeling of the US economic recession easing has helped bring us this far, but for now there’s a sense of achievement at getting over 10,000, and this is likely to spark profit-taking,” said Noritsugu Hirakawa, a strategist at Okasan Securities.
Taiwan stocks fell 3.45%, their biggest daily drop in two months, to a 1-month closing low.
The dollar rose 0.6% against a basket of six major currencies, gaining a lift as investors booked profits in currencies such as the Australian dollar, which fell 1.2 percent.
The euro fell 0.7%, retreating after data last week showed that April euro zone industrial production fell by a record.
US Treasuries edged higher, with the benchmark 10-year note rising 5/32 in price to yield 3.772%, down from an eight-month high around 4% hit last week after a weak 10-year auction, which was seen as reflecting investors’ worries about ballooning US debt issuance.
There are concerns that sharp spikes in yields could hamper the US economy, since interest rates on many loans and mortgages are benchmarked to government bond yields.
US crude futures fell more than $1 to just under $71 a barrel after last Thursday settling at $72.68, the highest settlement since 20 October.