Talking Points:

  • Asian stocks lacked reasons to rise on Friday
  • They duly didn’t, with the arrest of Samsung’s vice chair weighing further
  • The US Dollar also tracked back, although its NZ cousin took a double data hit

Stock markets slipped across the Asia/Pacific region on Friday to end a choppy weak on a sour note.

Wall Street didn’t provide much impetus on Thursday with equity markets there stuck. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s bare 0.1% gain was enough to set yet another closing record. More locally the arrest of the billionaire vice chair of South Korean conglomerate Samsung on bribery and other charges didn’t help stock bulls’ cause. Lee Jae-young has faced multiple rounds of questioning but was finally charged on Friday. He has reportedly denied wrongdoing.

The US Dollar was moderately weaker against major rivals, which was as always taken badly by Asia’s exporter-heavy bourses. The Nikkei shed 0.6%. The woes of index heavyweight Toshiba continued to weigh, but electronics giant Sharp offered some better news with hope of higher operating income. Australia’s ASX slipped 0.2%, but has risen 1.5% this week, following a 1.8% rise last. Chinese indexes were down about 0.5% on the day.

Asian economic data were thin on the ground. The New Zealand Dollar took a double hit as both retail sales and manufacturing performance underwhelmed. The Singapore Dollar did better on news that the city-state’s exports surged again in January. China was a notably strong destination.

Crude oil prices edged up by few cents, on a report that major global producers could extend their output cuts.

The rest of the session will offer slim scheduled pickings for investors. Official UK retail sales data are due, along with the US leading indicators series.

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--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX