Published: Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 8:44:00 AM
Asian shares track U.S. stocks lower on growth worries
TOKYO: Asian shares inched lower on Thursday, taking their cues from an overnight drop in U.S. and European equities on renewed concerns about global growth, which also weighed on commodities.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was down 0.3 percent, with Australian shares <.AXJO> falling 0.4 percent, hit by sinking copper prices which deepened concerns about demand for Australia's raw materials.
South Korean shares <.KS11> opened down 0.4 percent.
"Cyclical large-caps are losing steam as the rate of economic recovery appears slowing in major countries such as the U.S. and China, while first-quarter earnings forecasts continue to be revised down," said Chang Jae-ho, an analyst at Daishin Securities.
Both the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> and the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> closed down more than 1 percent on Wednesday after disappointing corporate earnings reports.
European shares fell to a 2013 low.
Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> opened down 0.8 percent. <.T>
Commodities also fell on Wednesday, with copper, seen as a gauge for manufacturing and China-related growth, shedding over 3 percent. A 10.3 percent decline in European car sales over March weighed on copper prices as an indicator of slumping demand for metals.
Oil prices tumbled for a sixth straight session on Wednesday, with Brent crude futures falling below $98 per barrel for the first time since July as rising U.S. fuel supplies added to overall concern about global oil demand.
U.S. crude futures fell 0.5 percent to $86.29 a barrel early on Thursday, just above a four-month low of $86.06 hit earlier in the week.
In addition to growth worries, the euro zone faces renewed risk of political uncertainty as Italy's divided parliament begins voting for a new state president on Thursday, a crucial step towards resolving the stalemate since the inconclusive election in February and to carry on with fiscal reforms.
The euro steadied around $1.3032, above Wednesday's one-week low of $1.3001.
The euro fell 1.1 percent on Wednesday for its biggest daily decline against the dollar since June, weakened by talk of a euro zone interest rate cut. The dollar also drew support from signs of economic weakness in Britain and Canada.
The dollar inched down 0.2 percent against the yen at 97.89 yen after touching a low of 95.67 yen on Tuesday, while the euro fell 0.3 percent to 127.54 yen, still above Tuesday's low of 125 yen.
Data from Japan's ministry of finance showed on Thursday that buying of Japanese equities last week by foreign investors hit a record high since the ministry began collecting the numbers in 2005, reaffirming the positive view on Japan and its strong push to beat deep-rooted deflation.
The capital flows data also confirmed Japanese investors have yet to actively seek returns from overseas assets despite falling domestic yields, with Japanese investors last week selling 332 billion yen of foreign bonds.
Traders will watch the impending Group of 20 meeting in Washington for any critical remarks over the yen's continued weak trend.
Gold, which on Monday triggered the wide market sell-off and led the liquidation of assets across the board after weaker-than-expected Chinese and U.S. economic reports stoked growth concerns, remained vulnerable.
Spot gold was down 0.2 percent at $1,373.51 an ounce early on Thursday, still some $100 below Friday's close. Bullion touched its lowest in more than two years of $1,321.35 on Tuesday. - Reuters