TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.2 percent lower on Thursday, yet hovering not far from its five-month high marked last week, and was up 10.2 percent year-to-date.
Japan’s Nikkei average fell 0.8 percent, while China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite stood almost flat, the blue-chip CSI 300 shed 0.9 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent.
Overnight, Wall Street’s main indexes fell for a third session, with the S&P 500 posting its biggest one-day decline in a month, as investors sought reasons to buy after the market’s strong rally to start the year. [.N]
“For some time, markets had been pricing in good news, namely that the talks between the U.S. and China will likely go well,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management. “Now markets are having a pause.”
Adding to concerns about the talks was data that showed the U.S. goods trade deficit surged to a record high in 2018 as strong domestic demand pulled in imports, despite the Trump administration’s “America First” policies aimed at shrinking the gap.
Other U.S. data out on Wednesday suggested some slowing in the labor market, though the pace of job gains remains more than enough to drive the unemployment rate down.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 183,000 in February after surging 300,000 in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private payrolls advancing 189,000 in February.
The government’s more comprehensive employment report for February is scheduled for release on Friday.
Also weighing on investor sentiment were broader concerns about growth after the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development cut forecasts again for the global economy in 2019 and 2020.
“Chinese macroeconomic data remains weak at the moment but I expect them to improve by the middle of the year,” said Okasan’s Maeno.
Investors are now looking ahead to the ECB’s board meeting later on Thursday. The central bank is expected to slash growth forecasts and give its strongest signal yet that fresh stimulus is coming in the form of more cheap loans.