Asia stocks snap 4-day slide, bond yields up

Asia stocks snap 4-day slide, bond yields up
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First Published: Fri, Jun 19 2009. 09 47 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Jun 19 2009. 09 47 AM IST
Hong Kong: Asian stocks snapped a four-day slide on Friday and government bond yields climbed after upbeat US factory and jobs data provided more evidence that the global economy is recovering from its deep recession.
A slowing pace of contraction in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s regional gauge of manufacturing and a rise in the expectations index to its highest since September 2003 - when the US economy was healing from its last recession - comforted investors.
But the rise in Asian equity markets was slight compared with the gains on Wall Street, and higher-yielding ones lost some ground after the previous day’s jump as market players turned cautious towards the end of the second quarter.
Analysts said that while the latest economic news out of the United States was a clear positive, the road to recovery was likely to be a long slog.
“US economic data is pointing to an end to the US recession. Good news? Absolutely. But unfortunately the end of recession does not mean the end of pain,” said Patrick Bennett, Asia FX and interest rate strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.
The April-June quarter has been a bumper one for portfolio managers on mounting signs the worst of the recession had passed, with Asian stocks outside Japan up 28% so far and poised for their biggest quarterly gain in 16 years.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.3% but was down 5.4% on the week, which would be the biggest such drop since late February - just before the stock market’s rally began in March.
Since the lows hit in early March, the MSCI benchmark of Asian shares has soared nearly 50%.
Bucking the trend, the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.1% after reaching an 11-month intraday peak in early trade as the first initial public offering since September came to the market, the start of an expected wave of share sales.
Investors are keeping an eye out for sharp market moves towards the end of the quarter, with the hefty gains for riskier assets likely spurring profit-taking as hedge funds and asset managers close their books.
Later on Friday June US stock futures and options will expire, and many positions will be rolled into September contracts - another potential spark for sudden moves.
Futures on the US S&P 500 were little changed in Asia after the index rose 0.9% on Thursday.
Asian bond markets tracked the drop in US Treasuries the previous day on the surprisingly good economic figures, nudging yields back near peaks hit earlier in the month.
US bond dealers were also spooked after the Treasury said it would sell a record $104 billion of debt next week, the latest of the massive auctions to fund stimulus spending.
Currencies were little changed in choppy trade, with some market players covering short positions in the dollar and giving the greenback a slight boost.
The dollar index, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, was little changed at 80.542 and holding small gains on the week after recovering from a seven-month low struck earlier in the month.
Against the yen, the dollar was flat at ¥96.65.
Crude oil prices barely budged at $71.42 a barrel and held just below a seven-month high on the US data and on worries about supply from Opec member Nigeria. Gold inched up $2.25 an ounce to $934.60.
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First Published: Fri, Jun 19 2009. 09 47 AM IST
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