Asian bourses slip on profit-taking after rally

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HONG KONG: Asian markets were mostly down Tuesday as traders booked profits after the previous day’s rally, while Wall Street provided another negative lead in response to anaemic US and Chinese manufacturing data.

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But the euro held on to gains it made against the dollar after an upbeat survey of European factory activity raised hopes for the eurozone.

Tokyo slipped 0.35 percent by the break, Hong Kong fell 0.35 percent, Sydney eased 0.42 percent and Seoul shed 0.19 percent but Shanghai was 0.32 percent higher.

European and US shares were unable to match Monday’s strong performance from stocks in Asia, where traders saw a fall in Chinese manufacturing activity as possibly pressing Beijing into announcing monetary easing measures.

Regional markets surged despite HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI) for March contracting further and hitting an eight-month low.

In the United States, Markit Economics said an early PMI reading slid to 55.5 in March from 57.1 in February.

A figure above 50 points to growth while anything below suggests contraction.

While the data still suggests expansion, investors were spooked as recent disappointing economic numbers had been blamed on severe winter weather at the start of the year.

The Dow ended 0.16 percent lower, the S&P 500 lost 0.49 percent and the Nasdaq tumbled 1.20 percent.

Earlier, the eurozone composite PMI from Markit Economics came in at 53.2 in March, from 53.3 in February, although traders took heart from a pick-up in output and new orders from France, which had previously been holding back the index.

The figures lifted the euro, helping it to $1.3835 in late New York trade from $1.3800 earlier in the day. In Tokyo on Tuesday the single currency fetched $1.3836.

The euro was at 141.41 yen against 141.48 yen on Wall Street, while the dollar bought 102.21 yen compared with 102.26 yen.

Oil prices fell. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate, eased 31 cents for its May delivery to $99.29 a barrel in early morning trade, while Brent crude for May dipped 36 cents to $106.45.

AFP

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