Published October 29, 2012
TOKYO – Asian shares slipped on Monday as investors switched their focus away from signs of stable U.S. growth, looking instead at tepid global corporate earnings and the uncertain economic outlook.
European shares were seen as lackluster, with financial spreadbetters expecting London's FTSE 100 , Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to open down about 0.1 percent.
U.S. stock futures were down 0.4 percent. U.S. stock and options markets will be closed on Monday, and possibly Tuesday, as regulators, exchanges and brokers worried about the integrity of markets in the face of Hurricane Sandy approaching the East Coast.
In Asia, the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> erased small gains earlier to trade down 0.2 percent, after shedding 1 percent on Friday and posting its biggest weekly drop in two months of 1.3 percent.
South Korean shares <.KS11> gave up earlier gains to inch down 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei average <.N225>, which tumbled 1.3 percent on Friday, was flat after being up early on Monday.
Hong Kong shares lost 0.2 percent and Shanghai shares eased 0.3 percent.
Australian shares were up 0.1 percent, aided by solid U.S. economic growth in the third quarter.
"Today was all about 'righting the ship' on the Australian share market," said Tim Waterer, senior trader at CMC Markets. "Solid U.S. GDP data offered a reprieve which was capitalized on by the materials and energy stocks."
Commodities were also capped, with London copper holding above 7-week lows plumbed last week, while U.S. crude futures fell 0.4 percent to $85.96 a barrel and Brent eased 0.2 percent to $109.31.
"People can't really see much optimism out there. We wanted the U.S. corporate earnings to be a little more robust," said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of Barratt's Bulletin, a Sydney-based commodity research firm.
The dollar steadied at 79.63 yen, off a four-month high of 80.38 yen touched on Friday, ahead of the Bank of Japan's policy decision on Tuesday. Markets expect the BOJ to take further easing measures.
U.S. GDP grew at a 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, slightly above a 1.9 percent forecast, and picking up from the second quarter's 1.3 percent rise. But the stronger pace of expansion fell short of what is needed for a substantial rise in employment.
European shares eked out gains on Friday after the U.S. data but U.S. equities were weighed down by poor earnings outlooks from major companies such as Apple , Amazon and South Korea's Samsung Electronics <005930.KS>.
Over the weekend, China said industrial profits rose 7.8 percent in September from a year earlier to 464.3 billion yuan ($74 billion), compared with a 6.2 percent drop in August, signaling some stability in the world's second-largest economy.
"Overall it suggests a continued period of subdued risk reduction bidding the U.S. dollar higher," said Societe Generale analyst Sebastien Galy.
Data showed that U.S. bond speculators scaled back their bullish bets on U.S. Treasuries futures early last week, even as worries about Spain and disappointing company earnings supported the bond market.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday also showed currency speculators cut their bets against the U.S. dollar in the same week to the lowest since early September.
The dollar index measured against a basket of six major currencies hit a near seven-week high of 80.270 on Friday and was still hovering near that level at 80.108 on Monday.
MONEY PULLED OUT
Data from EPFR Global showed that investors pulled the most money out of U.S. stock funds in the past week than at any point in more than a year, an indication that many still harbor deep concerns about the global economy.
"Investors are taking on more risk," EPFR Global Research Director Cameron Brandt said in a note. "But they are doing so largely within the fixed income universe and, when it comes to equities, bypassing the U.S. in favor of emerging markets."
Bullish bets on U.S. commodities by hedge funds and other big speculators have fallen to a near 2-1/2-month low, trade data showed on Friday, as oil and gold saw heavy selling for a second straight week.
The euro was down 0.1 percent to $1.2927, staying within the recent broad range between $1.28 and $1.31, waiting for bailout prospects for struggling Spain and Greece to become clear.
Asian credit markets softened, pushing the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index wider by 5 basis points.
(Additional reporting by Umesh Desai in Hong Kong, Thuy Ong in Sydney and Melanie Burton in Singapore; Editing by Richard Borsuk)