Asian shares turned positive on Monday, shrugging off a new North Korean missile test as investors turned their attention to a raft of global economic data and earnings this week, while the dollar crept up but remained capped by U.S. political concerns. European stocks look set for a muted start, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 to all open little changed. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed early losses to rise 0.25 percent. Chinese shares rose, buoyed by several leading companies’ forecasts for strong mid-year earnings. The blue-chip index and the Shanghai Composite both rose 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1 percent to a two-year high. That strong performance came despite a slip in official Chinese manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indices in July, although they stayed above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. Investors remained wary after North Korea conducted a missile test late on Friday that it said proved its ability to strike the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. responded by flying two bombers over the Korean peninsula on Sunday. But early jitters dissipated somewhat, with the Korean won reversing losses. The dollar was down 0.2 percent at 1,120.7 won, after jumping almost 0.7 percent on Friday. South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.2 percent. Australian shares advanced 0.7 percent. The perceived safe-haven Japanese yen strengthened, with the dollar shedding 0.15 percent to 110.545 yen, touching its weakest since mid-June. “The geopolitical overhang will likely keep topside moves in check early in the week as the disorganised U.S. and China policy towards North Korea is not helping matters,” Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, wrote in a note.
Japan’s Nikkei was flat, with the firm yen offsetting news the country’s industrial output rebounded in June from a decline in May. On Wall Street on Friday, the S&P and Nasdaq indexes fell after earnings from companies including Amazon , Exxon Mobil and Starbucks disappointed. But the Dow closed higher and set an intraday record, lifted by Chevron’s strong earnings. U.S. corporate results overall have come in better than expected for the second quarter. More than halfway through reporting season, S&P 500 companies are on track to have increased earnings by 10.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. S&P E-mini futures were down almost 0.1 percent on Monday. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major peers, edged up 0.15 percent to 93.396, after Friday’s 0.6 percent decline.
Markets are awaiting speeches by Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester and San Francisco Fed President John Williams on Tuesday, for further insight into whether the central bank has turned more dovish in light of recently muted inflation. “It is easy for uncertainty to increase about the Fed’s ability to raise rates next year if inflation remains low. We could see the dollar head below 110.00 yen under such circumstances,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior forex strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo. Investors will also be keeping a close eye on data including euro zone core inflation for July on Monday; the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rate decision, at which it is expected to stay on hold, and U.S. manufacturing conditions, due Tuesday; the Reserve Bank of India’s meeting on Wednesday, at which it is expected to cut rates; and Bank of England on Thursday, where it is likely to leave rates unchanged. A raft of private manufacturing surveys will also be released on Tuesday. The euro retreated slightly to $1.17385, pulling back from Friday’s 0.6 percent gain.
In commodities, oil prices rose for their sixth straight session on tightening U.S. supplies and the threat of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela’s oil sector. U.S. crude futures climbed 0.3 percent to $49.87 a barrel, after earlier hitting $50.06, their first foray above $50 in two months. Brent crude advanced 0.5 percent to $52.78, adding to Friday’s 2 percent surge. Gold was little changed at $1,268.26 an ounce, after earlier climbing to its highest since June 14.