Asian shares mostly down on profit-taking

AFP
People walk in front of the New York Stock Exchange on July 30, 2014
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Asian shares were mostly lower on profit-taking Thursday following a healthy rally across the region the previous day, while Wall Street provided another tepid lead despite an upbeat assessment of the US economy.

The dollar edged back towards 105 yen after losing steam on Wednesday, with the Bank of Japan's decision to stand pat on monetary policy seeming to have little effect.

Tokyo retreated 0.33 percent, or 52.17 points, to 15,676.18 and Sydney fell 0.44 percent, or 24.8 points, to close at 5,631.3 while Hong Kong was marginally lower, dipping 20.03 points to 25,297.92

Seoul ended 0.25 percent higher, adding 5.06 points to 2,056.26 and Shanghai jumped 0.80 percent, or 18.24 points, to 2,306.86.

A strong set of US manufacturing figures that added to a slew of upbeat data on the world's top economy helped regional markets higher Wednesday, and pushed the dollar above 105 yen for the first time since January.

However, traders took a breather Thursday after Wall Street shrugged off another positive report.

The Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report that the US economy is growing steadily with little sign of a change of pace, while businesses are generally more optimistic about the future.

The survey of regional economies reiterated the "modest to moderate" description of activity of the past half-year, and noted signs of tightening in the jobs market, with firms having trouble filling skilled positions.

The report is used by the Fed to help shape monetary policy, and will add to a growing call for its board members to hike interest rates earlier than its stated timetable of late 2015.

On Wall Street the Dow edged up 0.06 percent, the S&P 500 dipped 0.08 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.56 percent.

- Dollar edges towards 105 yen -

After a two-day meeting the Bank of Japan Thursday stuck by its view that the world's number three economy was recovering, despite a contraction in the second quarter, and stood pat on expanding its stimulus programme.

While the move was expected traders are hoping for some forward guidance from governor Haruhiko Kuroda when he holds a regular post-meeting news conference.

Analysts are looking to see if the BoJ has plans to respond to a recent batch of weak data that has raised questions about the country's recovery.

In afternoon Tokyo currency trade the greenback was at 104.93 yen, up from 104.78 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon. It had dipped to as low as 104.76 yen earlier in the day.

The euro bought $1.3137 and 137.87 yen against $1.3152 and 137.81 yen in New York trade.

The single currency has also weakened in response to comments from European Central Bank head Mario Draghi last month suggesting the lender is ready to unveil easing measures to fend off deflation. The ECB concludes its policy meeting later in the business day.

Dealers are also keeping an eye on the release Friday of US non-farm payrolls figures for August, which are expected to show a further improvement.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery fell 75 cents to $95.79 while Brent crude for October eased 67 cents to $102.10 in afternoon trade.

Gold traded at $1,269.92 an ounce at 1135GMT, from $1,270.61 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Jakarta closed down 0.36 percent, or 18.81 points, at 5,205.32 rupiah

Indo-Rama Synthetics closed down 4.28 percent, or 55.0 points, to close at 1,230 rupiah, while Hero Supermarket dropped 1.19 percent, or 30.0 points, to finish at 2,500 rupiah.

-- Mumbai closed down 0.20 percent or 54.01 points at 27,085.93 points.

Tata Motors was up 1.88 percent to 512.85 rupees and Reliance Industries was down 0.66 percent at 1024.10 rupees.

-- Bangkok lost 0.22 percent, or 3.54 points, to 1,579.73.

Airports of Thailand dropped 2.04 percent to 240.00 baht, while telecoms company True Corporation fell 2.65 percent to 11.00 baht.

-- Kuala Lumpur's main index gained 4.34 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,869.21.

IHH Healthcare added 1.4 percent to 4.92 ringgit, while Malayan Banking inched up 0.2 percent to 10.16. SapuraKencana Petroleum lost 0.2 percent to 4.29 ringgit.

-- Singapore closed down 0.07 percent, or 2.43 points, to 3,346.34.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation fell 1.43 percent to Sg$9.66 while real estate developer Capitaland eased 0.30 percent to Sg$$3.37.

-- Taipei fell 0.23 percent, or 21.46 points, to 9,428.89.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.39 percent lower at Tw$127.5 while Hon Hai Precision Industry shed 1.09 percent to Tw$99.9.

-- Wellington was flat, edging up 4.15 points to 5,228.55.

Spark, formerly Telecom, was up 1.67 percent at NZ$3.04 and Genesis Energy lifted 0.56 percent to NZ$1.80.

-- Manila was flat, edging down 1.91 points to 7,204.11.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. was up 0.58 percent at 3,460 pesos while Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. fell 0.34 percent to 87.30 pesos.

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