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Friday, May 20, 2022

Asian shares steady on U.S. earnings, data

By Chikako Mogi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares steadied on Friday, tracking global equities higher after upbeat U.S. labour market data, with investors turning their attention toward corporate earnings to assess the outlook for growth after a recent run of soft global data undermined sentiment.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed, after reaching its highest since mid-March on Thursday.

Europe’s top shares rose for the fifth straight session on Thursday, underpinned by expectations of a rate cut by the European Central Bank at its meeting next week, but the euro hovered near a three-week low of $1.2954, easing 0.1 percent to $1.3002 early in Asia on Friday.

The U.S. government reported on Thursday that new claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected, providing some relief to investors after a recent series of weak data. The labour market report comes ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy-making meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as the closely watched monthly payrolls report for April on May 3.

Japan’s Nikkei stock average opened up 0.4 percent after hitting its highest since June 2008 on Thursday. Japanese financial markets will be closed on Monday for a holiday.

“It’s ahead of a long weekend and we have U.S. GDP and Japanese earnings. So a lot of investors may want to wait for them before buying more,” said Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities, of Japanese stocks.

Although it is still early in the quarterly reporting season, only two out of the 16 Nikkei companies that have reported so far beat market expectations, data from Thomson Reuters StarMine showed.

Overnight U.S. S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent, driven by stronger-than-expected earnings and the large drop in weekly jobless claims.

Australian shares were up 0.2 percent and South Korean shares opened down 0.1 percent. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s quarterly profits beat expectations, underpinning sentiment after the better-than-forecast U.S. earnings.

Expectations for monetary stimulus helped risk asset markets rebound from a sharp sell-off earlier this month, triggered by disappointing U.S. and Chinese manufacturing data which raised concerns about slowing momentum in the world’s top two economies.

“Markets are experiencing cross-asset differentiation following softer global activity data in April. This mainly reflects the repricing of slower Chinese growth and expectations of very easy monetary policy in G4,” Barclays Capital said in a research.

“We continue to favour overweight positions in developed market equities but are less constructive on emerging markets equities.”

The Bank of Japan will likely project that it will meet its 2 percent inflation target in two years at a one-day meeting on Friday.

The BOJ on April 4 shocked financial markets by announcing a radical monetary expansion campaign aimed at ending stubborn deflation and revive growth. The central bank’s strong reflationary policy commitment has further weakened the yen and underpinned the dollar, lifting it close to the symbolic 100 yen mark earlier this month.

But the recent weak U.S. data has slowed the dollar’s progress. It was trading at 99.35 yen early on Friday.

U.S. crude was down 0.4 percent at $93.26 a barrel.

Spot gold was up 0.4 percent at $1,472.56 an ounce, recovering much of the loss it incurred in the massive sell-off two weeks ago.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Lau and Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Source: Reuters

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