Asia shares mostly down after Wall St record, ECB move

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HONG KONG: Asian shares mostly fell on Friday despite another record close on Wall Street after the European Central Bank unveiled a batch of measures to kick-start the stuttering eurozone economy, including negative interest rates.

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The euro edged down from its New York prices but was still up from those levels seen in Asia earlier Thursday despite the ECB’s unprecedented easing drive.

Tokyo was flat, dipping 2.13 points to 15,077.24 and Sydney rose 0.5 percent, or 27.1 points, to 5,464.0. Shanghai fell 0.54 percent, or 10.92 points, to 2,029.96 and Hong Kong shed 0.69 percent, or 158.66 points, to 22,951.

Seoul was closed for a public holiday. New York stocks rallied after the ECB said it would slash interest rates and provide hundreds of billions of euros to banks in a bid to fight off deflation and spur economic growth.

After a closely watched policy meeting, it announced its deposit rate would be cut to -0.10 percent. This means banks will be charged for leaving funds at the ECB in the hope they might lend it on to businesses and consumers instead.

It also cut its lending rate to a record low of 0.15 percent from 0.25 percent and said up to 400 billion euros ($550 billion) would be made available in cheap loans to banks as long as they lent more to the private sector.

While fresh easing measures were expected and had been largely factored into the market, investors were cheered by the news. The Dow rose 0.58 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.64 percent to end at all-time highs, while the Nasdaq rallied 1.05 percent.

On currency markets the euro dipped sharply after the announcement but soon recovered to sit at $1.3662 and 139.93 yen in late US trade. In afternoon Tokyo exchanges it fetched $1.3651 and 139.64 yen—but was still up from $1.3600 and 139.43 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday. The dollar was at 102.28 yen Friday against 102.41 yen in New York.

“This package of aggressive measures and the central bank’s willingness to do more should
have been negative for the euro and it was initially,” said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management in a research note.

But by the end of the North American trading session the euro had recovered all of its losses, finishing in positive territory, she noted.

“While the ECB maintains a dovish bias and has made it clear that they are not done easing, for the time being investors perceive [the]announcements to be positive for the eurozone economy and for the euro.”

AFP

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