Asian shares fall as G20 disappoints

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HONG KONG: Asian stocks broadly fell on Monday, with Shanghai ending at a month-low and Tokyo diving into the red after a G20 meeting failed to ease concerns about stalling global growth.

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Chinese shares closed down 2.86 percent, after falling as much as 4.63 percent during the day, as traders remained unconvinced the G20 had promised enough to revive the world economy.

The weakening yuan also hit sentiment after China’s central bank set it at a four-week low—even after its chief said there was “no basis” for the currency to keep falling.

The dollar largely held gains after upbeat US economic data stoked expectations the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates this year, while the strengthening yen dragged Tokyo stocks to close down 1.00 percent.

Seoul lost 0.18 percent, Sydney closed flat and Hong Kong dropped 1.30 percent, while European markets fell at the open.

Ray Attrill, National Australia Bank’s global co-head of foreign exchange strategy in Sydney, described the G20 as “underwhelming”.

There was an “admission of downside growth risks but no tangible commitments to fiscal policy action, in particular to bolster growth in the short term”, he told Bloomberg News.

European and Asian equities rose on Friday, as hopes grew that the world’s top 20 economies would agree to unleash their monetary firepower at a two-day meeting in Shanghai.

Pressure has been mounting for central bankers to do more to stimulate growth and reassure investors after financial markets posted one of the worst starts to the year in living memory.

But G20 ministers disagreed over the best way to stem the turmoil, and the final text did not include the call for coordinated action for which many had hoped.

The communique said the group “will use all policy tools —monetary, fiscal and structura —individually and collectively” to build confidence and strengthen the recovery.

Dollar strength returns
Traders said the focus in China would now shift to the National People’s Congress, the meeting of its rubber-stamp parliament, beginning on Saturday.

“Before the G20 meetings, people expected stabilisation policies and the central bank to make statements, but not too much happened,” Ronald Wan, CEO of Partners Capital, told Bloomberg News.

“People tend to cash out before the parliamentary meeting.”

The dollar remained strong and oil prices rose after upbeat US economic data was released last week.

The economy expanded by one percent in the final quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday, surprising analysts by revising up its previous estimate of 0.7 percent.

US durable goods orders jumped 4.9 percent in January after two months of declines, data showed Thursday.

Analysts said the strong data could provide more support for the US central bank to raise interest rates again this year, despite the global slowdown.

“The biggest story of the moment has been the far better performance of US data than the market had expected, which is seeing US dollar strength return,” said Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG in Melbourne.

In Asian afternoon trade, oil prices were mixed. At around 0730 GMT, US benchmark WTI was down 12 cents at $32.66 while Brent crude was up 10 cents at $35.20.

In individual stocks, Japan’s number two automaker Nissan jumped as much as 12 percent after it announced a $3.5 billion share buyback. It settled 5.45 percent higher at 1,024.5 yen.

AFP

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