Asia shares take a breather, dollar sold anew

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SYDNEY – Asian share markets took a time out on Wednesday as investors were left breathless at the breakneck pace of recent gains, while a fresh burst of speculative selling took the U.S. dollar to three-year lows.

Most Asian stock indices are up anywhere from 5 to 10 percent since the start of the year with many at all-time highs.

“These markets are absolutely flying and have had seemingly one-way moves since late December,” noted Chris Weston, chief market strategist at broker IG.

“There has clearly been a wall of capital hitting these markets, as is the case with many Asian currencies,” he added. “One simply can’t rule out further upside here, even if there are growing risks of buyers’ fatigue kicking in.”

Early Wednesday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.2 percent, having jumped 1.2 percent on Tuesday to an all-time peak. Japan’s Nikkei edged down 0.6 percent as the yen strengthened, though that was from a 26-year top.

Figures out of Japan showed exports growing for a 13th straight month, led by record demand from China and Asia as a whole, while manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in almost four years.

Investors seemed to have largely shaken off worries about a trade war, sparked when U.S. President Donald Trump’s slapped steep import tariffs on washing machines and solar panels in a move condemned by China and South Korea.

Korea’s main index was flat, while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index dipped 0.3 percent. The latter is still up more than 8 percent on the year so far and near its highest since mid-2015.

On Wall Street, a 10 percent surge in Netflix led gains across the tech sector as it became just the latest to top forecasts. So far, 82 percent of reporting companies having beaten estimates.

The Nasdaq ended Tuesday with gains of 0.71 percent and the S&P 500 0.22 percent, while the Dow edged down a tiny 0.01 percent. – Reuters

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