Asian shares edge down, take cue from Wall Street
TOKYO: Asian shares fell on Thursday following a dismal day on Wall Street, while crude oil futures gave back some of their overnight gains after jumping on an unexpected fall in US crude inventories.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.2 percent in early trading, in the wake of the worst day for US share markets since February, following downbeat quarterly retail reports.
All of the 10 major S&P 500 .SPX sectors fell except for utilities .SPLRCU, which gained 0.24 percent.
Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 percent skidded 0.9 percent.
Crude oil futures were lower in Asian trading after getting a lift when the US government unexpectedly said crude inventories fell for the first time since March. [O/R]
US crude CLc1 slipped 0.8 percent to $45.85 per barrel after adding 3.5 percent on Wednesday. Brent crude LCOc1 shed 0.8 percent to $47.22 after settling up 4.6 percent overnight and gaining 4.3 percent in the previous session.
"At this point, investors see oil extending its rally as a sign of improvement in global growth," said Jennifer Vail, head of fixed-income research at US Bank Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon.
But the weak retail reports offset any lift in sentiment, she said. In light of the murky economic outlook, US Federal Reserve policymakers remain concerned about whether the market could stomach another interest rate hike.
"They (the Fed) really want to raise the policy rate so that they have some flexibility should the domestic economy need it, but given this highly unusual slow-growth environment, it's been difficult for there to be clear signals that it can digest policy normalization," Vail said.
Wall Street's top banks now see the US central bank's next hike coming in September, according to a Reuters survey conducted on Friday after a weaker-than-expected rise in US payrolls.
Later on Thursday, the Bank of England is expected to say that its nine Monetary Policy Committee members voted to keep rates on hold at a record low of 0.5 percent, where they have remained for more than seven years.
BOE Governor Mark Carney will tread carefully back into Britain's debate on whether to leave the European Union, when he sets out the central bank's latest forecasts.
The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was steady at 93.836, but remained below a two-week high of 94.356 set on Wednesday as investors took profits on the US currency's recent gains.