HONG KONG: Asian stock markets slipped Wednesday following the previous day’s gains, with investors taking their lead from losses on Wall Street as the dollar edged down against the yen.
US oil prices moved higher following a report that Washington had decided to start exporting crude for the first time in four decades.
Tokyo slipped 0.71 percent, or 109.63 points, to 15,266.61, Sydney eased 0.57 percent, or 30.78 points, to 5,402.0 and Seoul gave up 0.63 percent, or 12.58 points, to close at 1,981.77.
Shanghai retreated 0.41 percent, or 8.43 points, to 2,025.50 and Hong Kong was a touch lower, dipping 13.94 points to 22,866.70
With few catalysts to drive trade, investors took the opportunity to cash in gains fuelled earlier this week by data indicating China’s manufacturing sector is creaking back into gear after contracting for six months.
The main lead came from New York, where all three of the city’s main indexes slipped Tuesday despite another strong set of indicators.
The US Conference Board said consumer confidence rose for the second straight month in June to its highest level since January 2008, when the economy was sinking into recession.
It also found consumers were more positive about the jobs outlook and had greater expectations overall for the next six months.
Separately, the Commerce Department said sales of new homes in May hit their highest pace since 2008. Sales surged 18.6 percent month-on-month to 504,000 units as the country moved out of the winter lull. Sales were also nearly 17 percent higher year-on-year.
However, the Dow sank 0.70 percent and the S&P 500 fell 0.64 percent after ending last week at record highs, while the Nasdaq slipped 0.42 percent
The selling in equities seeped into currency markets, where the dollar dipped against the yen.
The greenback was at 101.90 yen in afternoon trade, compared with 101.98 yen in New York Tuesday. The euro bought $1.3611 and 138.72 yen against $1.3606 and 138.75 yen. AFP
On oil markets, US crude prices—already at nine-month highs—edged up owing to the ongoing crisis in Iraq, where insurgents have captured swathes of territory in a lightning offensive that began on June 9.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTA) rose 17 cents to $106.20 while Brent crude eased 65 cents to $113.81.
WTI was given an extra push following a report in the Wall Street Journal that the Obama administration had given two firms approval to export crue from the United States for the first time since the early 1970s. AFP
The Commerce Department will permit the two Texas-based companies to export the ultra-light condensate, which has grown in supply on the back of the boom in fracking-based exploration and production of natural gas, the report said.
The move comes as a surge in production from shale-based deposits at home has cut the need for imports and created regional surpluses due to distribution bottlenecks.
Gold fetched $1,313.74 an ounce at 8:10 a.m. local time in Asia compared with $1,323.70 on Tuesday.