Asian shares hit by tech warning, oil holds near highs

Reuters | | Updated on: Apr 20, 2018

Asian shares slipped on Friday as a warning on smartphone demand from the world's largest contract chipmaker slugged the tech sector, while lofty oil prices stirred inflation fears and undermined sovereign bonds.

Apple led the way after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing cut its revenue target to the low end of forecasts and blamed softer demand for smartphones.

“The big story for the APAC region today will be fallout from TSMCs miss, which will weigh heavily on the tech sector, with first order impacts on the Semis and Samsung Electronics/ Galaxy supply chain,” analysts at JPMorgan said in a note to clients. “The miss appears largely to have been due to Apple iPhones, and so may also weigh on the Apple supply chain.”

Stocks in South Korea took an early 0.4 per cent dip with the tech sector losing 1.6 per cent. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.5 per cent with tech down 0.9 per cent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.4 per cent, again led by a 0.7 per cent drop in technology.

Wall Street had also been hit by weak result from tobacco company Philip Morris, which sent its shares down as much as 17.7 per cent and dragged on the S&P 500. The Dow ended down 0.34 per cent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.57 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.78 per cent.

Oil prices edged back a touch after hitting their highest since late 2014 on drawdowns in global supply and as Saudi Arabia looks to push prices higher. Brent crude futures were steady in early trade at $73.78 a barrel, while US crude eased 5 cents to $68.24.

A global oil glut has been virtually eliminated, according to a joint OPEC and non-OPEC technical panel, two sources familiar with the matter said, thanks in part to an OPEC-led supply cut deal in place since January 2017.

Analysts at CBA noted market measures of inflation expectations had spiked higher this week as oil prices surged, with some hitting highs not seen since mid-2014. That in turn pressured fixed-income debt with yields on 10-year Treasuries jumping to a one-month top at 2.93 per cent. Yields are up 10 basis points in just two days, the sharpest move since early February.

In currency markets, the main mover was sterling which dived late Thursday when Bank of England Governor Mark Carney cooled expectations for an interest rate hike in May, pointing out there were “other meetings” this year.

Sterling dropped more than a cent to $1.4085, leaving it a long way from the week peak of $1.4373. The sudden retreat in sterling helped support the US dollar more broadly and the dollar index was steady at 89.940. The euro also eased back a touch to $1.2346, while the dollar remained tightly bound on the yen at 107.41 yen , still short of recent peaks at 107.78.

Published on April 20, 2018
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