Asian shares stay near 9-month lows as trade frictions weigh
Asian shares crept higher on Monday after a tame reading on US wages lessened the risk of faster rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, although Sino-US trade tensions and a looming deadline for the Iranian nuclear deal argued for caution.
The week ahead also has important readings on the health of the Chinese economy, and hence global demand, as well as the latest data on US consumer price inflation.
The early action was limited with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan up 0.2 percent.
Japan's Nikkei was flat, while Australian stocks added 0.3 percent. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 also inched up 0.2 percent.
Friday’s US jobs report showed unemployment dropping to a new cycle low of 3.9 percent yet wages remained benign, suggesting the Federal Reserve would keep raising rates but at a gradual pace.
That outlook cheered Wall Street where the Dow ended Friday up 1.39 percent, while the S&P 500 rose 1.28 percent and the Nasdaq 1.71 percent.
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) hit a record high after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) disclosed that it had raised its stake in the iPhone maker.
The recent run of solid US economic news contrasts with a softer turn in European data and lifted the dollar to its highest for the year so far against the euro.
The single currency was last at $1.1961, having been down as deep as USD 1.1911 on Friday. The dollar also reached its highest since December against a basket of currencies and was last trading at 92.576.
It had less luck against the Japanese yen, in part because strains in emerging market currencies were supporting safe havens such as the yen. The dollar was at 109.03 JPY=EBS, having topped out around 110.05 last week.
“It’s this recovery in the US dollar – one based on the data flow in the US against the rest of the world – which is catching many by surprise and causing ructions across emerging markets,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader.
Markets from Argentina to Turkey have been under intense pressure, in part because many of these countries have large amounts of US dollar debt which gets more expensive to finance as the currency rises.
A firming US dollar has also been negative for some commodities, with gold falling for a third straight week to last trade at USD 1,114.79 an ounce.
Oil, on the other hand, was near its highest in more than three years as global supplies remained tight and the market awaited news from Washington on possible new US sanctions against Iran.
President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for Europeans to “fix” the deal with Iran over its nuclear program or he would refuse to extend U.S. sanctions relief for the oil-producing Islamic Republic.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 added 11 cents to USD 74.98 a barrel, while US crude CLc1 gained 9 cents to USD 69.8