SYDNEY (Reuters) — Asian shares got a
welcome reprieve from selling on Wednesday as Wall Street steadied
and investors in emerging markets found some backbone, which took
some of the starch out of safe-haven bonds and the yen.
Still, the gains were modest and dealers cautioned that the mood
remained brittle and it would only take a poor U.S. payrolls report
on Friday to set the bears running again.
For now, the Nikkei <.N225> managed to rally 1.5 percent to 14,221
after a couple of days of punishing selling. But it faces stiff
resistance at the 200-day moving average of 14,425, while there is a
large gap to fill between Monday's close and Tuesday's opening.
The index had shed 14 percent since the start of the year following
last year's 50 percent boom.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
<.MIAPJ0000PUS> eked out a 0.16 percent gain, while South Korea
added 0.5 percent <.KS11>.
On Wall Street, the Dow <.DJI> ended up 0.47 percent, while the S&P
500 <.SPX> added 0.76 percent and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> 0.86 percent.
The bounce helped pull MSCI's world index <.MIWD00000PUS> from its
lowest level since October.
Europe's top shares <.FTEU3> pared early losses to end 0.17 percent
The modest improvement in risk appetites led to a pullback in the
yen and Swiss franc, and a generally firmer U.S. dollar. The
greenback edged up to 101.58 yen, having found solid support at its
The euro eased a touch to $1.3515, still dogged by speculation that
the threat of deflation might nudge the European Central Bank into
easing policy at its meeting on Thursday.
The major mover in currencies was the Australian dollar which surged
after the country's central bank on Tuesday shut the door on further
rate cuts, citing a pick-up in housing and consumption and higher
than expected inflation.
The Aussie was enjoying the view at $0.8910 after climbing a steep 2
percent overnight. It also rallied sharply on the euro and yen as
speculators were forced to cut short positions in what had been a
very crowded trade.
The New Zealand dollar got its own boost when jobs data showed
strong employment growth for the fourth quarter of last year, adding
to the already considerable case for a hike in interest rates.
Currencies in emerging markets also bounced from recent lows with
the Turkish lira, Brazilian real and South African rand all gaining.
The pullback in safe havens saw U.S. 10-year Treasury yields shoved
up to 2.62 percent, from a low of 2.57 percent. Gold gave back some
ground to stand at $1,253.20 an ounce.
In commodities, prices for wheat were boosted by dry weather and
declining crop conditions in the United States, while soymeal and
corn were in high demand.
Broad gains in grains and natural gas lifted the Thomson
Reuters/Core Commodity Index <.TRJCRB> 1 percent, the biggest
one-day gain in nearly a month.
U.S. oil futures rose on bets on a reduced stockpile at a key
delivery point due to the start-up of a major pipeline. The March
NYMEX contract added 51 cents to $97.70 a barrel, while Brent crude
eased 4 cents to $106.00.