TOKYO, March 6 — Asian stocks clung to tight ranges today, as investors awaited fresh directional cues from US-China trade negotiations and a weaker Wall Street finish capped broader gains, while robust US economic data supported the dollar.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was barely changed. Australian stocks added 0.2 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei declined 0.5 per cent.
Wall Street dipped yesterday as a drop in General Electric shares countered positive retailer earnings and investors eyed a key resistance level for the benchmark S&P 500 after the market’s run to a five-month peak on Monday.
A report from the Institute for Supply Management showed US non-manufacturing sector companies in February placing the most new orders since August 2005, an indicator of robust health.
“In the short term, the equity markets will likely focus on positive factors such as the strong US ISM data,” said Soichiro Monji, senior economist at Daiwa SB Investments in Tokyo.
Beijing revealed at the annual meeting of its parliament yesterday that it is targeting economic growth of 6.0 to 6.5 per cent in 2019, less than the 6.6 per cent gross domestic product growth reported last year.
On the trade front, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he thought the United States and China were “on the cusp” of a deal to end their trade war. Pompeo added yesterday that “Things are in a good place, but it’s got to be right.”
In the currency market, the US dollar held gains after rising against its peers yesterday’s upbeat ISM non-manufacturing sector report.
The US dollar was steady at 111.83 yen after going as high as 112.135 overnight, its strongest since December 20.
The euro was little changed at US$1.1306 following a decline of 0.3 per cent the previous day, when it plumbed a two-week trough of US$1.1289.
US crude oil futures were down 0.7 per cent at US$56.16 (RM228.78) per barrel after data from the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, showed a larger-than-expected increase in US crude stockpiles. — Reuters
Source: The Malay Mail Online