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Asia stocks slip despite strong regional economic data

Wednesday 03:10 BST

Overview

Asian equities were suffering despite positive economic data out of Japan and Australia, while markets in greater China took the day off.

Hot topic

The Japanese yen was stronger in the wake of data showing retail sales growth sped up in April as unemployment held steady at the lowest level in decades for a third month straight. The currency was 0.4 per cent firmer against the US dollar at ¥110.83.

Other regional currencies were losing ground against the greenback. The dollar index, which tracks the US currency against a basket of currencies, was up 0.2 per cent at 97.663. The Australian dollar was steadying after building approvals rose more than expected last month, paring earlier losses to be down 0.2 per cent at $0.7426.

A broader dollar rally also saw the euro shed 0.4 per cent to $1.1124 while the UK pound was down 0.3 per cent at $1.2807.

South Africa’s rand was worst off among global currencies, weakening another 0.5 per cent to 13.0304 per dollar after shedding 0.7 per cent on Monday, after embattled President Jacob Zuma survived an attempted ouster from within his own ruling party.

Equities

Equities in the region fared poorly, with stock markets in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan shut for a public holiday.

In Tokyo the benchmark Topix index was off 0.4 per cent, pulled lower by falls of 0.7 per cent and 0.6 per cent in the energy and financials segments, respectively.

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.4 per cent, thanks to falls of 1 per cent in both the consumer staples and telecoms segments.

Fixed income

Government bonds in the region were moving minimally with US Treasuries stable. The yield on 10-year US Treasuries was down 2 basis points at 2.232 per cent. Yields move inversely to prices.

The Australian 10-year government note was enjoying the largest gains, with its yield down 3 bps at 2.378 per cent. The yield on the equivalent Japanese government bond was flat at 0.023 per cent, while the 10-year South Korean note was unmoved at 2.229 per cent.

Commodities

Crude oil price moves were moderate, with the US marker West Texas Intermediate up 0.2 per cent but still hovering below the $50 mark at $48.88 a barrel. Brent crude, the international marker, was off 0.2 per cent at $52.18.

Gold was making marginal gains, up 0.1 per cent at $1,269.82 per ounce.

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