Asian shares stumble, bonds and dollar find safe-haven demand

Reuters SYDNEY | Updated on July 07, 2021

Hong Kong tech stocks hit by regulatory crackdown; Japan Nikkei slips nearly 1 per cent

Asian share markets stumbled on Wednesday as a bout of risk aversion boosted bonds and the dollar, while investors braced for minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting which should underline a hawkish turn in US monetary policy.

Dealers were hard pressed to find a single catalyst for the sudden change of mood, but a Chinese crackdown on tech companies had clearly had an impact.

Hong Kong stocks shed another 1% to near six-month lows, while US-listed ride-hailing company Didi Global Inc shed more than 20% in New York. Alibaba Group, Baidu Inc and all fell.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged down 0.4%, while Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.9%.

Going the other way, Australian stocks managed to firm up 0.6% and Chinese blue chips added 0.2%.

Nasdaq futures and S&P 500 futures were both holding steady for the moment.

Wall Street had been unsettled by a survey showing a slightcooling in the red-hot U.S. services sector, though at 60.1 the ISM index was still historically high.

"Normally any ISM reading approaching 60 or above would be seen as strong, but details play to the idea that there is a speed limit to the recovery amid shortage of inputs and labour,alongside still elevated costs," said Rodrigo Catril, a seniorFX strategist at NAB.

The skittish mood helped Treasuries extend their recentrally with yields on US 10-year notes dropping almost 8 basis points overnight to 1.348%. That was the lowestsince February and also the largest daily decline sinceFebruary.

The outperformance of longer-dated debt saw the yield curve bull flatten, which could be a bet the Fed will tighten policy pre-emptively to head off inflation.

Minutes of the Fed's June policy meeting due later onWednesday might show how serious members were about taperingtheir asset buying and how early hikes could begin.

Expectations of a hawkish tone helped the dollar rallyagainst a basket of currencies to 92.543, up from a lowof 92.003 on Tuesday. The euro dropped back to $1.1823,near its lowest since March while commodity-linked currenciesslipped.

The dollar had less luck on the safe-haven yen, easing to110.45.

"We now expect a period of broad USD strength over coming quarters," said Kim Mundy, a senior currency strategist at CBA.

"Our view boils down to US economic outperformance for aperiod, so we have downgraded our near-term forecasts for all currencies we monitor against the USD."

In commodity markets, the bounce in the dollar offset the general risk-off mood to leave gold steady at $1,801 an ounce after briefly reaching as high as $1,814 overnight.

Oil prices had shed some recent gains after OPEC producerscancelled a meeting when major players were unable to come to anagreement to increase supply.

Early Wednesday, Brent was off 18 cents at $74.35 abarrel, while U.S. crude lost 10 cents to $73.27.

Published on July 07, 2021

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