Asian shares slip after Wall St losses

PHOTO: Asian shares slip after Wall St losses

HONG KONG - Asian markets slipped Thursday following a sell-off on Wall Street fuelled by US housing data that raised concerns about the Federal Reserve's stimulus programme.

The dollar lost some of the gains it made against the yen in New York, while the euro was also slightly lower after enjoying some support on Wednesday thanks to some rare good news for the eurozone economy.

Tokyo fell 1.14 per cent owing to a pick-up in the yen against the dollar. The Nikkei lost 168.35 points to end at 14,562.93, while Seoul closed 0.13 per cent lower, shedding 2.47 points to 1,909.61. Sydney was flat, edging up 0.5 points to 5,035.6.

Hong Kong shed 0.31 per cent, or 67.97 points, to 21,900.96 and Shanghai lost 0.60 per cent, or 12.16 points, to end at 2,021.17.

On Wall Street the Dow fell after hitting a record high Tuesday, with US dealers also moving out on a government report showing an unexpected 8.3 per cent surge in sales of new homes in June, their fastest pace in five years.

The Dow fell 0.16 per cent after hitting another record on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.38 per cent and the Nasdaq was flat.

While pointing to a pick-up in the US economy, the figures struck investors with fear that the Fed will start to wind down its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying scheme soon.

Such a move by the Fed would leave fewer dollars in the financial system, lifting demand and in turn sending the currency higher.

By the end of US trade Wednesday the greenback rose to 100.26 yen, from 99.48 yen the previous day. In European trade on Thursday it was at 99.90 yen.

In other forex trade the euro bought $1.3173 and 131.60 yen, from $1.3199 and 132.34 yen.

The single currency was given support by news that private business across the eurozone returned to growth in July for the first time in 18 months, possibly signalling an end to recession, analysts said.

The Markit Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index logged 50.4 points, above the 50-mark signalling growth, and a bigger-than-expected rise, after posting 48.7 points in June.

On oil markers New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in September, was down 32 cents at $105.07 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for September shed 31 cents to $106.88.

Gold cost $1,313.40 per ounce at 1050 GMT, compared with $1,343.70 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

- Taipei dropped 0.40 per cent, or 32.61 points, to 8,163.58. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 0.49 per cent to Tw$102.5 while China Airlines fell 0.44 per cent to Tw$11.3.

- Manila ended flat, dipping 4.05 points to 6,800.11.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone lost 0.32 per cent to 3,068 pesos and Ayala Land fell 0.48 per cent to 31.25 pesos, while parent Ayala Corp. dropped 4.22 per cent to 613 pesos.

- Wellington fell 0.49 per cent, or 22.41 points, to 4,576.79.

Telecom eased 0.42 per cent to NZ$2.345 while Fletcher Building was down 2.82 per cent at NZ$8.27.

- Bangkok lost 2.98 per cent, or 44.68 points, to 1,456.68.

Telecoms company True Corp. fell 5.85 per cent to 8.85 baht, while power giant Electricity Generating Public Co. dropped 4.96 per cent to 134 baht.

- Jakarta ended down 0.93 per cent, or 43.99 points, at 4,674.12.

Retailer Ramayana Lestari Sentosa gained 1.50 per cent to 1,350 rupiah, while palm oil firm Astra Agro Lestari dropped 4.48 per cent to 16,000 rupiah.

- Kuala Lumpur was flat, slipping 1.58 points to 1,808.42.

AirAsia shed 0.1 per cent to 1.24 ringgit, while UEM Sunrise fell 2.6 per cent to 2.98. Electric utility Tenaga Nasional gained 0.2 per cent to 9.16 ringgit.

- Singapore closed down 1.19 per cent, or 39.08 points, at 3,235.68.

DBS Bank declined 0.24 per cent to Sg$16.74 and oil rig maker Keppel Corp dropped 1.77 per cent at Sg$10.55.

- Mumbai slid 1.42 per cent, or 289.52 points, to 19,804.76 points.

Swiss giant Holcim's Indian unit Ambuja Cements fell 10.52 per cent to 171.0 rupees while diversified ITC group fell 4.57 per cent to 358.80 rupees.