Asia shares drift after rally, Wall Street reopen in focus

By Stella Qiu

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares held a mixed tone on Tuesday after rallying the previous session, as rising bets of an imminent European rate cut helped risk appetite ahead of some key inflation data.

A slew of European Central Bank officials said overnight the ECB has room to cut interest rates as inflation slows, underscoring expectations for a rate cut on June 6. With debate now shifting to subsequent moves, markets have fully priced in two rates cuts by October this year.

That helped Wall Street stock futures firm ahead of the reopening of U.S. markets after a public holiday. S&P 500 futures rose 0.1% and Nasdaq futures gained 0.2% before a line-up of Federal Reserve speakers later in the day for the latest guidance on rate outlook.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4%, thanks to a 0.7% gain in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, after gaining 0.9% on Monday.

Japan’s Nikkei, on the other hand, slipped 0.3%, reversing some of the 0.7% advance a day ago.

“We’re heading into the northern hemisphere summer season. Traditionally that’s a time when markets just tend to get in that drift mode. We’ve got through earnings season,” said Tony Sycamore, an analyst at IG.

“To find a driver it’s got to be something from out of left field and in lieu of that, generally we see markets drift higher and I think that’s what we’re seeing at the moment.”

Chinese blue chips lost 0.1% after firming 1% a day earlier as tech shares surged on Beijing’s further commitment to invest in its semiconductor industry. [.SS]

The big risk events this week are not due until Friday when U.S. figures on core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) – the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation – and euro zone inflation data will set the trading tone.

In foreign exchange markets, the dollar was on the back foot for the third straight session as traders positioned for the PCE release. Median forecasts are for a rise of 0.3% in April, keeping the annual pace at 2.8%, with risks on the downside.

The Japanese yen steadied at 156.80 per dollar, just a touch stronger than the key 157 level. It, however, kept weakening against a slew of high yielding currencies, with the New Zealand dollar hitting a fresh 17-year top of 96.56 yen on Tuesday. [FRX/]

Thanks to the strong carry demand, the kiwi hit a 2-1/2-month high of $0.6155.

The cash Treasuries market returned from a holiday with little movement after taking a hit last week.

Two-year yields fell 1 basis point to 4.9396%, having surged 13 bps the previous week, while the 10-year yield held at 4.4649%, after rising 5 bps the week before.

Oil prices were mostly steady on Tuesday. Brent futures rose 0.1% to $83.19 a barrel. [O/R]

Gold prices climbed for a third day, up 0.1% at $2,354.23 per ounce.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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