Asian shares flat as UK vote, ECB meeting loom

Ajustar Comentario Impresión

People walk across a street in downtown of the Central, a business district of Hong Kong, Thursday, June 8, 2017. Asian stocks benchmarks were mostly edging Thursday as investors parsed economic data and awaited market-moving events in.

Hong Kong's economy relative to China's gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from a peak of 27 percent in 1993 to less than 3 percent in 2017.

DATA DUMP: Japan released revised first-quarter data that showed Asia's second-largest economy expanded an annualized 1 percent, a significant drop from last month's initial 2.2 percent estimate, according to Kyodo News.

ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent to close at 19,909.26 and South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.2 percent to 2,363.57.

Traders are on tenterhooks ahead of the big events, which could either fuel a sharp sell-off or reignite a rally that has seen some indexes hit multi-year - and even all-time - highs in recent weeks.

In Britain Prime, Minister Theresa May's Conservatives are expected to win the national vote, but their once commanding lead in opinion polls has been slashed since she called it, leading to fears of political uncertainty ahead of key Brexit talks.

Crude oil futures were little changed Wednesday, staying at yearly lows due to a stubborn global supply glut. Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a 7% growth in exports last month and an 8.5% increase in imports.

The Hang Seng Index added 0.2% to 26,027.44, taking another shot at a close above 26,000 after failing to achieve that in the previous two sessions despite climbing above the psychologically important level in intraday trading. An unexpected outcome could play havoc with global markets and the pound. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was practically unchanged at 5,668.80.

ECB MEETS: Investors will be monitoring the European Central Bank's meeting and news conference later in the day, where policymakers are expected to sketch out their latest plans for the bank's bond-buying stimulus program. European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi told a parliamentary hearing recently that the 19-nation eurozone's economy is improving but it still needs heavy stimulus.

QUOTEWORTHY: "Asian markets are still expected to idle in this trend of mixed performances ahead of the key events", said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG.

ENERGY: Oil futures stabilized after slumping overnight on unexpected news that US crude stockpiles grew 3.3 million barrels last week. Wall Street was poised for modest gains at the open with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.1 percent. Over in the mainland, the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.1%, while the yuan traded onshore was flat at 6.7952 to a US dollar. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 45 cents at $45.33 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.80 yen from 109.83 in late trade Wednesday. The euro strengthened to 1.266 from $1.1262.