Asian Shares Stabilize, China Reform Agenda In Focus

Asian shares inched higher on Tuesday after a three-day run of losses, with investors turning their attention to the Chinese Communist Party policy meeting for clues to its economic agenda for the next decade.

The dollar rallied to a seven-week high against the yen, extending gains after a surprise rise in U.S. October jobs growth on Friday, which has raised the prospect of the Federal Reserve reducing its stimulus drive sooner than thought. The greenback also kept pressure on emerging Asian currencies.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added 0.1 percent in a choppy session.

China’s CSI300 Index .CSI300 advanced 0.8 percent and Seoul shares .KS11 rose 0.9 percent, while Tokyo’s Nikkei benchmark .N225, helped by the softer yen, climbed 2.2 percent to a three-week high.

“The recent decline opened up room for bargain-hunting, but thin trading volume underscores investors’ search for clues on the timeline for the Fed’s stimulus cutback,” said Lim Dong-rak, an analyst at Hanyang Securities in Seoul.

Financial bookmakers expected major European indexes .FTSE .GDAXI .FCHI to open steady to slightly higher, with both Britain and German inflation in focus.

Overnight, U.S. stocks edged up, lifting the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI to another record closing high in light Veterans Day volume. .N U.S. S&P 500 E-mini futures edged up 0.1 percent in Asian trade on Tuesday.

All eyes will be on the unveiling of China’s economic blueprint for the next decade after a four-day closed-door meeting ends on Tuesday.

Beijing seeks to balance the need to overhaul the world’s second-largest economy while it tries to preserve stability and to reinforce the Communist Party’s power.

“In terms of the effect on the market, some people actually believe it might be slightly negative and the reason for that is … you have a situation where the current investment in Chinese infrastructure slows down as these laws are changed,” said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne.

But on a medium-term view, changes to the Chinese economy would boost growth in the region, he said.


The dollar was up 0.4 percent at 99.55 yen, edging close to the 100-mark, a level not seen since September 11.

The greenback rose 0.3 percent to $0.9331 to the Australian dollar, hitting a six-week peak after a measure of Australian business confidence pulled back from 3-1/2 year highs in October as sales and profits stayed subdued.

The euro dipped 0.1 percent to $1.3388 after bouncing 0.3 percent on Monday, ending two days of losses that saw the common currency briefly touch an eight-week low last Thursday when the European Central Bank unexpectedly cut interest rates.

The outlook for the dollar was upbeat with expectations building that the Fed might soon taper its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program after U.S. employers added more than 200,000 new jobs last month — many more than forecast by analysts.

Emerging currencies remained on the defensive, reflecting concerns about capital outflow when the Fed scraps its cheap money policy.

The rupiah was down 0.6 percent to a six-week low at 11,625 per dollar, adding to Monday’s 1.3 percent slide, while the Philippine peso eased 0.3 percent to 43.70 to a dollar, a near two-month low.

Indonesia’s central bank is likely to keep its benchmark reference rate on hold at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, with inflation stabilized and the current-account deficit expected to narrow — relieving pressure on the ailing rupiah.

The Indian rupee fell 0.5 percent to 63.573 per dollar, its weakest since September 17, as investors awaited inflation and industrial output data.

Indian inflation is forecast to have risen to uncomfortable levels for policymakers last month, adding to the pressure for further interest rate increases.

In the commodities markets, U.S. crude prices slipped 0.3 percent to below $95.0 a barrel, giving up some of the 0.6 percent rise on Monday after Iran and six world powers failed to reach a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program and after Chinese data pointed to a rise in fuel demand. <O/R>

Gold dipped 0.2 percent to below $1,280 an ounce, hovering near a three-week low touched overnight. <GOL/>