Asian markets steady as US markets closed for Thanksgiving holiday


Hong Kong, Asian equities stabilised Thursday following a modest rebound in energy and tech stocks on Wall Street, with US markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

But analysts warned the tepid uplift in New York Wednesday should not be interpreted as a sign of the start of a recovery from the recent carnage on global stock markets.

Investor sentiment remains fragile following the volatility that has swept markets since October, while the OECD has warned the world economy has peaked and faced a slowdown as it confronts the Trump administration’s trade war and tighter monetary conditions.

Crude prices resumed their downward trajectory Thursday, after a brief recovery on Wednesday.

Cude prices have fallen by almost 30 per cent from four-year highs touched at the start of October. Oil analysts attribute the pullback to high supply as well as a weakening global growth outlook.

“This half-hearted recovery effort should not be confused with anything other than pre-holiday scramble doing little more than what amounted to chasing oil prices,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.

“But with the overwhelming consensus suggesting we’re not even close to being out of the weeds yet, it’s down to the US retail sector to provide a lifeboat to investors as the markets pivots.”

The Nikkei was flat, with fresh data suggesting the world’s third-largest economy is continuing to struggle in its years-long battle with deflation.

Inflation in Japan stood at one per cent in October, unchanged from the previous month, according to government data.

Japan has battled deflation for many years and the central bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy appears to have had limited impact.

Late last month, the Bank of Japan again revised down inflation forecasts, in the latest sign it had failed to make headway towards its two-per cent target despite years of massive monetary easing.

Shares in Nissan rose slightly by the break as the car firm’s board members prepared to decide later in the day whether to oust Carlos Ghosn as chairman, after his spectacular arrest for financial misconduct sent shockwaves through the car industry and the business world.

Ghosn stands accused of under-reporting his income by millions of dollars and a host of other financial irregularities, in a stunning fall from grace for the once-revered titan of the auto sector.

The arrest has sparked questions over whether the alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors can survive without Ghosn, seen as the glue holding together his fractious creation, which globally employs around 450,000 people.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong was flat, Shanghai dropped, while Sydney was a rare bright spot, putting on 0.6 per cent. Shares in Singapore were little changed as the trade-reliant city-state braces for slower economic growth next year as demand in key markets in Asia weakens.

The modest uplift in global markets has come as shares rallied in Europe and the euro rose against the dollar after the EU, as expected, officially rejected Italy’s big-spending budget, clearing the path for unprecedented sanctions and deepening a bitter row with Rome’s populist government.

However, reports said Italy’s government may be open to budget revisions as the European Union took a first step toward imposing fines on the country.

The pound was little changed against the greenback with Prime Minister Theresa May preparing to return to Brussels for more talks on the eve of a Brexit summit.