Asia stocks steady after U.S. tech rout, yen slips as BOJ stands pat


SINGAPORE Asian stocks steadied on Friday, taking in stride the resumption of the U.S. technology rout overnight, and European shares look set for a positive start following Thursday’s losses.

The Japanese yen remained near a two-week low against the dollar after the Bank of Japan left monetary policy unchanged as expected even as its U.S. counterpart signaled further tightening.

It was trading 0.3 percent lower at 111.23 yen JPY=D4 per dollar after the BOJ left in place its program to buy Japanese government bonds, and kept its short-term interest rate target at minus 0.1 percent and its 10-year government bond yield target at around zero percent.

As expected, the central bank offered a more upbeat view on private consumption and overseas economies, signaling its confidence that the recovery was gaining momentum.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 advanced 0.7 percent, narrowing its loss for the week to 0.3 percent.

“The market was relieved that there was no mention of an exit strategy, at least for now,” said Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS slipped about 0.1 percent, on track to end the week down 0.85 percent.

Financial spreadbetters expect Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE, Germany’s DAX .GDAXI and France’s CAC 40 .FCHI to all open up about 0.2 percent.

Overnight, the Nasdaq .IXIC led losses on Wall Street with a 0.5 percent drop, dragged lower by shares including Apple .AAPL.O and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) that tumbled on bearish analysts’ reports. The S&P 500 technology index .SPLRCT also declined 0.5 percent.

The broader S&P 500 index .SPX fell 0.2 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI slipped 0.1 percent.

“It was a brutal day for the tech sector once again as investors are increasingly more worried about the (Federal Reserve) tightening cycle and how that would put a number of firms in trouble,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets in London, wrote in a note.

“The tech boom has been on the back of easy money and lower interest rates. Both of them are leaving town.”

South Korea’s KOSPI .KS11 slipped about 0.1 percent, surrendering early gains. The biggest company, Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) added 0.1 percent.

The second biggest firm, semiconductor concern SK Hynix (000660.KS), hit a 15-year high before pulling back to trade 0.2 percent lower.

The technology-heavy Taiwan index .TWII widened gains to 0.6 percent, with the biggest company, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2330.TW) jumping 1.7 percent and Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry (2317.TW) surging 2.5 percent.

“This is long overdue… There’s a clear discrepancy, where Asia and emerging market tech names are still being discounted compared to their western counterparts,” said Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore.

“Historically that made sense, but politically, things are potentially a lot more stable in Asia than in developed markets as a whole.”

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, climbed to a two-week high.

Data overnight showing the number of Americans filing for unemployment fell more than expected last week, and better-than-expected business conditions in June bolstered the case for Federal Reserve tightening this year.

The index rose 0.1 percent to 97.539, extending Thursday’s 0.5 percent gain. It’s on track for a 0.3 percent rise this week.

On Wednesday, the Fed raised interest rates as widely expected, and also released some preliminary details of its plan to begin paring its $4 trillion-plus debt holdings.

Sterling GBP=D3 added almost 0.1 percent to $1.2769. On Thursday, it jumped to as high as $1.2795 on signs of a shift in the Bank of England’s stance on keeping interest rates at record lows.

But it fell back to close flat, as monetary policy uncertainty added to existing concerns about Britain’s political outlook after Prime Minister Theresa May failed to win a parliamentary majority in last week’s election.

In commodities, oil was subdued on continued worries over rising U.S. gasoline inventories adding to already elevated global supply.

U.S. crude CLc1 fell 0.1 percent to $44.49 a barrel, remaining near Thursday’s six-week low, on track for a 2.9 percent drop for the week.

Global benchmark Brent LCOc1 crept up 0.1 percent to $46.97, set to end the week 2.45 percent lower.

The dollar’s strength kept gold XAU= flat at $1,252.92 an ounce, failing to make up Thursday’s 0.6 percent drop. It is poised to close the week with a 1 percent loss, its second weekly decline.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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