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Asian Markets End The Quarter With Modest Falls

Asian Markets End The Quarter With Modest Falls

2017-03-31 07:22:00
David Cottle, Analyst

Talking Points

  • Asian stocks ended the session and the quarter with a whimper
  • Most bourses were in the red as investors cashed out and eyed next week’s event risk
  • The US Dollar was perkier

Most Asian stock markets were modestly lower as the region’s Friday wound down, many investors moved to close out long positions as the year’s first quarter ends this session.

Next week offers plentiful “event risk,” too, including US President Donald Trump’s first summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the banner event of the monthly data round, official US labor statistics.

The Nikkei, ASX and Kospi all posted losses, as did stocks in Hong Kong. Japan’s mainboard ended down 0.8%, at a closing low point not seen since February 9. The Shanghai composite was a notable gainer. The Chinese manufacturing sector expanded modestly in March, according to the official Purchasing Managers Index, and stopped shedding jobs for the first time since 2012.

Japanese data showed a small fall in the unemployment rate. Inflation also relaxed, although the “core” measure rose at its fastest annualized pace since May 2015, even if that was only a 0.2% rise.

The US Dollar inched up after some upside US Gross Domestic Product revisions on Thursday. It seems poised for weekly gains but quarterly losses overall. The Dollar Index, which tracks it against a basket of major traded rivals, was up about 0.2% on the day at 100.57. It's up about 1% for the week, but down by a little more since January 1. The Euro continues to take losses as investors fret about political and credit risks in the Eurozone. South Africa’s Rand took a hammering as President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet, raising investor worries about continuity at the Finance Ministry.

Crude oil prices lost a little, with some investors clearly inclined to take a little profit after three rare days of gains. Both US crude and international benchmark Brent remain above $50/barrel, though. Meanwhile gold prices slipped back as that stronger US data revived market belief that more interest rate increases will be coming this year.

There’s plenty of economic life left in Friday’s global session, during which some key indicators will see daylight. You can take your pick from German unemployment, revised looks at UK and Canadian growth, Eurozone consumer prices and US personal spending data.

Would you like to know more about trading the financial markets? DailyFX’s trading guide should be your first stop.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.