1. Asia shares edge up, wary of China volatility

Asia shares edge up, wary of China volatility

Investors kept a wary eye on China, where stocks dropped on Thursday after state media reported that banks were investigating their equities exposure in the wake of the recent dramatic rout there.

By: | Tokyo | Updated: July 31, 2015 9:25 AM
us stock market

Investors kept a wary eye on China, where stocks dropped on Thursday after state media reported that banks were investigating their equities exposure in the wake of the recent dramatic rout there. (Reuters)

Asian shares inched higher on Friday but were still set to post a loss for the month, while the dollar edged away from highs scaled after U.S. GDP data reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates this year.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up about 0.2 percent at 3:02 GMT, but recorded a loss of 5.9 percent for the month.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index was little changed, but saw a gain of 1.4 percent for July, the only Asian market ending the month in positive territory – excluding Australia and New Zealand.

Japanese economic data published before the open contained some worrying signals, including a drop in household spending, a fall in Tokyo-area consumer prices and a rise in the June jobless rate.

Investors also awaited more earnings from blue-chip companies and looked for signs of whether China’s volatile stock markets were starting to take a toll on its economy.

In the latest of several attempts to bolster China’s stock market, the securities regulator clamped down on trading accounts that had been found to have abnormal bids for shares or bid cancellations.

China’s CSI300 index fell 0.4 percent, contributing to a 15 percent slump this month. The Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 1.2 percent, extending July losses to 13.4 percent.

“With Greece out of the way and China not being such a big focus as it has been, we’re back to watching the economic data,” said Christopher Moltke-Leth, head of institutional client trading at Saxo Capital Markets in Singapore. “Particularly U.S. data, as we’re getting close to a liftoff.”

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended the day unchanged at 2,108.63, as downbeat earnings offset solid economic data.

U.S. gross domestic product data released on Thursday showed growth accelerated in the second quarter, though slightly short of some forecasts. Growth was tweaked higher in the first quarter, backing the Fed’s assessment at its meeting this week that the economy was expanding “moderately.”

“While some economists look at these numbers and say that they are weak or the economy is worse off than before because of the downward revisions in 2012 and 2013, we believe there’s enough here for the Fed to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years,” said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York.

“While we are bullish dollars and believe that further gains are likely, there’s just under two months to the next monetary policy meeting and the dollar is overbought,” she said in a note to clients.

The dollar inched down about 0.1 percent on the day to 123.985 yen, after rising as high as 124.58 overnight, its highest level since June 10.

The euro edged about 0.1 percent higher to $1.0942 , after dropping to a one-week low of $1.0835 on Thursday.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was about 0.2 percent lower at 97.386, after rising to a one-week high of 97.773 overnight.

Crude oil slipped for a second session as mixed economic data from the U.S. overnight weighed on sentiment. U.S. crude was down 0.4 percent at $48.15 a barrel.

London copper was facing its biggest monthly loss since January amid sputtering Chinese demand and a stronger dollar. It’s facing a near 9 percent downturn for July, its weakest showing since January, and the second-worst performance since 2012.

The stronger dollar also pushed down gold, which is on track for a sixth straight weekly fall, its longest retreat since 1999. It fell 1 percent with a 5-1/2-year low in sight. Spot gold was last steady on the day at $1,086 per ounce.


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