Asia shares anxious ahead of China data

SYDNEY - Asian share markets drifted lower on Wednesday as anxiety mounted ahead of another batch of Chinese data while strength in the US dollar kept the screws on global commodity prices.

Markets will be vulnerable to any whiff of disappointment in Chinese figures on retail sales, industrial production and urban investment, particularly given recent downward surprises on inflation and trade.

The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 0.5 percent, while the Shanghai Composite Index eased 0.3 percent.

Concerns about Chinese demand were evident in Japan where a Reuters survey showed confidence among manufacturers fell in November for a third straight month to levels unseen in about 2-1/2 years.

Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.1 percent, though that follows a run of strong gains.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat after touching a fresh one-month low. Bourses in South Korea and Taiwan lost ground.

Wall Street had offered no direction as the Dow ended Tuesday with a slight gain of 0.16 percent. The S&P 500 added 0.15 percent and the Nasdaq eased 0.24 percent.

Weighing on the Nasdaq, Apple shares fell 3 percent after Credit Suisse said the iPhone maker had lowered component orders by as much as 10 percent.

In currency markets, the euro struggled as political uncertainty in Portugal provided an excuse to sell in a market already bracing for further monetary policy easing from the European Central Bank.

The common currency last stood at US$1.0755 (S$1.53), having hit a six-month trough of US$1.0673 on Tuesday.

The dollar index eased back form a seven-month peak to be down 0.4 percent at 98.900. The dollar ran into a little profit-taking against the yen, nudging it down to 122.94, from an early 123.15.

Yields on sovereign bonds were generally lower as soft Chinese inflation continued to point to global deflationary pressures.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields dipped a couple of basis points to 2.34 percent, but remain hostage to the chance of a Fed rate hike next month. Indeed, concerns are growing that another strong payrolls report could lead to rates rising at a faster pace than was currently priced in.

The Treasury market is closed on Wednesday for Veterans Day, but Wall Street will be open.

In commodities, the firm U.S. dollar continues to weigh on prices with zinc at its lowest in over five years.

Oil prices resumed their decline on news U.S. crude stocks jumped last week. U.S. crude lost 45 cents to US$43.76 a barrel, while Brent shed 23 cents to US$47.21.