Seoul pulls Asian shares down, solid economic data helps

TOKYO Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:44am IST

People, standing in front of an electronic board displaying share prices, wait to cross a street as cars pass by in Tokyo August 22, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/Files

People, standing in front of an electronic board displaying share prices, wait to cross a street as cars pass by in Tokyo August 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tech-heavy South Korean shares dragged down the broader Asian share index on Monday on fears of weaker earnings, but improving economic prospects in Europe and solid U.S. profit reports underpinned sentiment.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched down 0.2 percent, after seeing its biggest weekly loss in two months last week. Asian markets were in positive territory except in Seoul and Jakarta.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) extended losses to an 8-week low with a 0.6 percent slip, as a weakening yen soured the outlook for local exporters and foreign investors reduced their holdings.

Tech-heavy South Korea was also vulnerable to a clouding outlook for high-end smartphone device shipments.

"Investors have begun preempting concerns about exporters' outlooks since automakers announced weak earnings last week, while large-caps continue to be pressured by foreign selloffs," said Kim Hyung-ryol, an analyst at Kyobo Securities.

Global investor sentiment improved on Friday when the German Ifo business morale index improved in January to its highest in more than half a year, further evidence that Europe's largest economy is gathering speed again, and European banks were set to repay the European Central Bank a larger sum of money than expected to underscore stabilising financial system in the euro zone.

In China, data on Sunday showed profits earned by industrial companies rose 17.3 percent in December from a year earlier to 895.2 billion yuan, adding to evidence of a fourth-quarter economic recovery.

The yen extended losses to fresh lows, but Japanese equities gave up earlier gains and eased ahead of Japan's corporate reporting season which enters full swing this week.

Japan's Nikkei stock average edged down 0.1 percent after jumping 2.9 percent on Friday to log an 11th straight week of gains, its longest such run since 1971.

Against the yen, the dollar hit 91.26 early on Monday, its highest level since June 2010 while the euro touched 122.91, its highest point since April.

New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for aggressive monetary easing and huge fiscal spending to beat deflation. The yen has fallen some 13 percent since mid-November when he began making those calls as part of his election campaign.

"The potent mix of Abenomics and strong risk appetite abroad is continuing to soften the yen, which means investors will still be buying stocks," said Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities.

In sharp contrast to U.S. and German equities, the Nikkei remains well below levels before the financial crisis in 2008, reflecting the magnitude of negative effect from the yen's strength. The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed at their highest in more than five years on solid U.S. corporate earnings on Friday and Frankfurt's DAX index also scaled five-year highs.

The yen is still stronger than around 95 yen before the 2008 financial crisis, but both the euro and the dollar measured against a basket of key currencies hover at levels far below the pre-crisis levels.

SAFE HAVEN SUFFERS

The improving global macroeconomic environment has curbed interest in safe haven assets such as gold.

Spot gold steadied around $1,659.90 an ounce on Monday, still below its 200-day moving average. As riskier equities rallied on Friday, bullion saw its biggest weekly drop this year on Friday.

U.S. crude inched up 0.1 percent to $95.95 a barrel and Brent steadied around $113.23.

London copper, another industrial commodity linked to demand prospects, rose 0.4 percent to $8,065 a tonne.

With easing stress in financial markets, investors pumped $5.65 billion into stock funds worldwide in the latest week, with most of it flowing into emerging market stock funds, data from EPFR Global showed on Friday.

The euro hovered near an 11-month high of $1.3480 hit on Friday. The Australian dollar stumbled to an eight-month low against the euro early on Monday. European shares scaled fresh multi-month peaks on Friday.

Investors will focus this week on the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee statement on Wednesday and U.S. nonfarm payrolls due on Friday.

Sluggish equities weighed on Asian credit markets, widening the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index by 1 basis point.

(Additional reporting by Joyce Lee in Seoul and Sophie Knight in Tokyo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs & Kim Coghill)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

DEFENCE

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Canonisation

Canonisation

Pope declares sainthood of two Indians, four Italians.  Full Article 

Stake Sale Strike

Stake Sale Strike

Coal India trade unions call off strike in victory for Modi.  Full Article 

Markets Weekahead

Markets Weekahead

Ride the bull with a finger on the ejector button.  Full Article 

Arms Purchase

Arms Purchase

India approves $2.6 bln mounted gun purchase - official.  Full Article 

Interview with Bulgari CEO

Interview: Bulgari CEO

Bulgari CEO: we shouldn’t have left India so we’re back  Full Article 

Formula One

Formula One

Hamilton takes second F1 title in style.  Full Article 

Available For Remake

Available For Remake

Bollywood finally wants to pay the price for remakes  Full Article 

Davis Cup

Davis Cup

Vintage Federer seals first Davis Cup for Switzerland.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Happy Ending" is old wine in an older bottle  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage