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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares pull back from highs on doubts over Trump's tax plan
April 27, 2017 / 12:38 AM / in 6 months

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares pull back from highs on doubts over Trump's tax plan

* Shares step back from highs after U.S. tax cut plan

* Dollar retreats vs major currencies

* Canada dlr, Mexican peso rebound after Trump comments on NAFTA

* BOJ stands pat, ECB next focus

* European shares seen opening softer

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, April 27 (Reuters) - Asian shares eased from a near two-year high on Thursday as a long-awaited U.S. tax cut plan failed to inspire investors, though sentiment remained supported by global growth prospects and receding worries about political risks in Europe.

European shares are expected to slip, with spread-betters looking to a fall of up to 0.5 percent in Britain’s FTSE , 0.4 percent in France’s CAC and 0.3 percent in Germany’s DAX.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were almost flat after falling 0.4 percent earlier in the day. It hit its highest level since June 2015 on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.1 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump proposed slashing tax rates for businesses to 15 percent from the current 35 percent for public corporations and 39.6 percent for small businesses, and on overseas corporate profits returned to the country.

But the one-page plan, billed as the biggest tax cut in history by the administration, offered no specifics on how it would be paid for without increasing the deficit, which many analysts think would be difficult to achieve.

“There was virtually no new information, just as expected. He was essentially repeating his campaign promises,” said Tomoaki Shishido, senior fixed income strategist at Nomura Securities.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended down 0.05 percent, failing to cling to earlier gains made on optimistic views on corporate earnings.

Overall profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 11.8 percent in the first quarter, the most since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The world’s share markets have been bolstered by relief over the first round of the French presidential election and also by signs of solid global economic growth in recent months.

Asian shares have been helped by an upturn in global trade but the U.S. economy is a big wild card going forward because of the uncertainty on its fiscal and trade policies, said Alex Wolf, senior emerging market economist at Standard Life Investments in Hong Kong.

“Chinese demand will slow but not fall off a cliff. European demand is improving and the U.S. is quite strong but it’s not clear how much longer that has to run,” Wolf said, noting the U.S. is further along in its expansion cycle.

China’s growth accelerated at the fastest pace since mid-2015 in the January-March quarter, while South Korea on Thursday also reported stronger than expected first-quarter growth, fuelled by improving global demand.

In contrast, the U.S. economy appears to have slowed, with economists expecting the advance reading of U.S. GDP on Friday to show growth slowing to 1.2 percent in the first quarter from 2.1 percent in the preceding quarter.

Still, investors remained upbeat overall, not least because the steady recovery in the jobs market over the past several years has brought down the jobless rate to its lowest in almost a decade.

“I think upcoming U.S. data, such as auto sales and a manufacturing survey due early next week, could overshoot after unexpected weakness last month, possibly giving momentum to shares,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

The U.S. Congress inched toward a deal to fund the government through September but was preparing to possibly extend a midnight Friday deadline in order to wrap up negotiations and avoid an imminent government shutdown.

Analysts noted, however, that any breakdown in talks and a subsequent government shutdown could raise fresh worries about Trump’s ability to push his agenda down the road.

The disappointment on the tax plan prompted falls in U.S. bond yields and the U.S. dollar.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield slipped to 2.314 percent from two-week high of 2.350 percent touched earlier on Wednesday.

The euro traded at $1.0903, having bounced back from Wednesday’s low of $1.0856 and near its 4-1/2-month high of $1.09515 touched on Wednesday.

The ECB is scheduled to hold a policy meeting on Thursday, with the focus on the potential for a scaling back of monetary stimulus in the months ahead.

While no changes are expected, policymakers see scope for sending a small signal in June towards reducing monetary stimulus, according to sources, another factor underpinning the single currency.

The dollar slipped to 111.23 yen from near a one-month high of 111.78 yen scored earlier on Wednesday.

The yen showed no reaction after the Bank of Japan kept its policy unchanged, as expected, with traders looking for more clues from Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s news conference later in the day (0630 GMT).

The Canadian dollar and the Mexican peso recovered from losses after Trump said he agreed not to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Earlier the two currencies were battered as the administration was readying an executive order to withdraw from the trade pact.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.5 percent to C$1.3555 per U.S dollar after having hit a 14-month low of C$1.3648 touched earlier in the day.

Similarly, the Mexican peso jumped 1.0 percent to 19.000 peso to the dollar, off a six-week low of 19.299 peso per dollar on Wednesday.

Oil prices dipped on concerns about globally bloated markets, though traders said that prices seemed to have found support around current levels.

Brent futures dropped to $51.60 per barrel, down 22 cents, or 0.42 percent, from their last close. Brent is almost 9 percent below its April peak.

Editing by Kim Coghill and Jacqueline Wong

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