HONG KONG: Asian shares were mostly lower on profit-taking on Thursday following a healthy rally across the region the previous day, while Wall Street provided another tepid lead despite an upbeat assessment of the US economy.
The dollar edged back towards 105 yen after losing steam on Wednesday, with the Bank of Japan’s decision to stand pat on monetary policy seeming to have little effect.
Tokyo retreated 0.33 percent, or 52.17 points, to 15,676.18 and Sydney fell 0.44 percent, or 24.8 points, to close at 5,631.3 while Hong Kong was marginally lower, dipping 20.03 points to 25,297.92
Seoul ended 0.25 percent higher, adding 5.06 points to 2,056.26 and Shanghai jumped 0.80 percent, or 18.24 points, to 2,306.86.
A strong set of US manufacturing figures that added to a slew of upbeat data on the world’s top economy helped regional markets higher Wednesday, and pushed the dollar above 105 yen for the first time since January.
However, traders took a breather Thursday after Wall Street shrugged off another positive report.
The Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report that the US economy is growing steadily with little sign of a change of pace, while businesses are generally more optimistic about the future.
The survey of regional economies reiterated the “modest to moderate” description of activity of the past half-year, and noted signs of tightening in the jobs market, with firms having trouble filling skilled positions.
The report is used by the Fed to help shape monetary policy, and will add to a growing call for its board members to hike interest rates earlier than its stated timetable of late 2015.
On Wall Street the Dow edged up 0.06 percent, the S&P 500 dipped 0.08 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.56 percent.
Dollar edges towards 105 yen
After a two-day meeting the Bank of Japan on Thursday stuck by its view that the world’s number three economy was recovering, despite a contraction in the second quarter, and stood pat on expanding its stimulus program.
While the move was expected traders are hoping for some forward guidance from governor Haruhiko Kuroda when he holds a regular post-meeting news conference.
Analysts are looking to see if the BoJ has plans to respond to a recent batch of weak data that has raised questions about the country’s recovery.
In afternoon Tokyo currency trade the greenback was at 104.93 yen, up from 104.78 yen in New York on Wednesday afternoon. It had dipped to as low as 104.76 yen earlier in the day.
The euro bought $1.3137 and 137.87 yen against $1.3152 and 137.81 yen in New York trade.
The single currency has also weakened in response to comments from European Central Bank head Mario Draghi last month suggesting the lender is ready to unveil easing measures to fend off deflation. The ECB concludes its policy meeting later in the business day.
Dealers are also keeping an eye on the release Friday of US non-farm payrolls figures for August, which are expected to show a further improvement.
On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery fell 75 cents to $95.79 while Brent crude for October eased 67 cents to $102.10 in afternoon trade.
Gold traded at $1,270.80 an ounce at 9:10 a.m. local time, from $1,270.61 on Wednesday.