Asia stocks rise, dollar sags as weak U.S. data dents rate hike prospects

Asian shares rose to 2-month highs on Thursday and the dollar struggled near multi-week lows after weak U.S. economic data added to expectations that the Federal Reserve will delay hiking interest rates.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 1.6 percent to its highest since mid-August. The index had fallen the previous day after soft consumer inflation in China added to concerns about the world’s second-biggest economy.

Australian shares nudged up 0.3 percent. Shanghai shares .SSEC gained 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi soared 1.2 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 pared earlier losses and gained 0.8 percent, brushing off soft domestic data.

Japanese manufacturers’ confidence worsened for the second straight month in October and is expected to fade going forward, a Reuters poll showed, adding to lingering fears of a recession and keeping policymakers under pressure to deploy fresh stimulus.

On Wall Street, the Dow .DJI lost 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 .SPX shed 0.5 percent overnight on Wal-Mart’s (WMT.N) weak profit forecast and disappointing bank earnings. [.N]

U.S. stock futures ESc1 rose 0.5 percent in Asian trade on Thursday, suggesting a slightly firmer open later in the day.

U.S. retail sales and producer prices data out on Wednesday were weaker than expected, supporting growing views that the Federal Reserve would delay hiking interest rates until 2016.

“With inflation falling and consumer spending stagnating, it will be very difficult for the Federal Reserve to pull the trigger this year. The economy could regain momentum in November or December but a significant turnaround would be needed to shift market expectations,” wrote Kathy Lien, managing director of FX Strategy for BK Asset Management.

European Central Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio said a rate hike by the Fed could have greater global repercussions than in the past because the economy has changed and central banks have little experience moving away from interest rates of zero.

“The truth of the matter is that given the lack of historical precedents on what the impact of a major economy departing from a zero lower bound environment is, market analysts and policy makers do not have much of a choice other than ‘learning in real time’,” he said in prepared remarks for a speech in Hong Kong.

The prospect of a delayed rate hike boosted U.S. Treasuries, which saw the benchmark 10-year note yield US10YT=RR fall to a 6-month low of 1.85 percent.

The dollar fetched 119.03 yen after hitting a 5-week low of 118.56 yen JPY=. The euro stood near a 7-week high of $1.1489 EUR=.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars rallied versus the greenback as well with the kiwi flying to a 3-month peak of $0.6846 NZD=D4.

As a result the dollar index .DXY hovered close to 93.845, its lowest since late August.

The pound traded near a 3-week high of $1.5495 GBP=D4 struck overnight, when it soared 1.5 percent on upbeat British employment data.

U.S. crude oil struggled amid lingering concerns of a global supply glut.

Expectations of more Iranian supply following a nuclear deal and concerns that economic worries in China and Europe will weigh on demand have pressured oil this month. [O/R]

U.S. crude CLc1 was down 0.2 percent at $46.58 a barrel, although a weaker dollar helped slow its decline. Brent LCOc1 fared a little better, edging up 0.3 percent to $49.30 a barrel.

Source: Reuters

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