Asian shares off 10-year peak, eyes on China markets

Hideyuki Sano, Reuters

Posted at Nov 24 2017 10:37 AM

TOKYO - Asian shares hovered below their 10-year peak on Friday while investors viewed Chinese shares with caution after their big fall the previous day.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked down 0.1 percent in early trade, led by 0.3 percent fall in Australian shares. The MSCI index hovered still just 0.5 percent below its 10-year peak hit earlier this week.

Japan's Nikkei fell 0.6 percent after a market holiday on Thursday while US stock futures were little changed after shortened trading on Thursday.

"Many markets have been hitting new highs so there should be some profit-taking and I wouldn't worry too much. Still, in the very near term, we could be in a phase where patience is needed," said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Although solid global economic growth and strong corporate earnings have underpinned shares in Asia and many other parts of the world, a tumble in mainland Chinese shares on Thursday caught some investors' attention.

The CSI300 index fell 3.0 percent on Thursday, its biggest decline in almost a year and a half, on concerns about rising Chinese bond yields.

In the currency market, the US dollar remained under pressure after the minutes from the US Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting showed highlighted concern among some of the board members over persistently low inflation.

"The Fed funds futures market has rolled back expectations on future rate hikes a bit after the minutes. One key focus going forward would be Powell's hearing in the Senate on Tuesday," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

The euro traded at $1.1846, near its one-month high of $1.1862 set on Nov. 15. A clear break of that level could open the way for a test of its 2 1/2-year high near $1.21 touched in September.

The dollar fell to a two-month low of 111.07 yen on Thursday and last traded at 111.33 yen.

A weaker dollar saw the British pound staying near a six-week high against the dollar ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to Brussels later in the day for talk on Brexit.

US crude futures hovered near a two-year high hit in thin trade on Thursday on the shutdown of a major crude pipeline from Canada and a draw on fuel inventories.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded at $58.39 per barrel, near Thursday's two-year intraday high of $58.58.

International benchmark Brent futures held firm at $63.42, up 0.2 percent on the day.