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Asia tries to find its footing, China disappoints

Asia tries to find its footing, China disappoints
FILE PHOTO: Men look at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, China, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo   -   Copyright  Kim Kyung Hoon(Reuters)
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By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian share markets fought to regain their footing on Tuesday as tremors from the collapse of the Turkish lira ebbed, though sentiment took a fresh knock when Chinese economic data proved softer than expected.

Retail sales, industrial output and urban investment all grew by less than forecast in July, a trifecta of disappointment that underlined the need for more policy stimulus in China.

The Shanghai blue chip index <.CSI300> was off 0.6 percent and weighing on MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> which eased 0.2 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei <.N225> held onto its early 1.1 percent gain, while Australian stocks <.AXJO> added 0.8 percent. EMini futures for the S&P 500 <ESc1> were still a fraction firmer, while 10-year Treasury yields held at 2.88 percent <US10YT=RR>.

Investors had been encouraged that falls on Wall Street were only minor overnight. The Dow <.DJI> ended Monday down 0.5 percent, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.40 percent and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> 0.25 percent. [.N]

Turkey’s lira found a moment’s respite at 6.9250 per dollar <TRYTOM=D3> after the country’s central bank said it would provide liquidity and cut reserve requirements for banks.

Yet it still lost almost 10 percent on Monday alone and has shed more than two-fifths of its value so far in 2018.

The rot spread to the South African rand and the Argentine peso. Argentina’s central bank surprised by raising interest rates by 5 percentage points on Monday, but it was still not enough to stop the peso hitting a record low.

GOLDLOSESITSLUSTRE

JPMorgan economist David Hensley argued that strains in most other emerging markets (EM) would be contained.

“Negative developments in Turkey will likely be eventually seen, along with Argentina, as isolated given their exceptional external imbalances compared to most EM countries,” he said.

“Nonetheless, we are mindful of political risk elsewhere in the EM involving Russia as well as Brazil, Mexico, and even India.”

For now, concerns about the exposure of European banks to Turkey pushed up bond yields in Spain and Italy and hobbled the euro. The single currency was last at $1.1405 <EUR=EBS>, having touched its lowest since July 2017 on Monday.

It also reached one-year lows on the yen and Swiss franc, traditional safe harbours in times of stress.

The dollar steadied at 110.75 yen <JPY=>, having hit a six-week trough around 110.11 on Monday. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar <.DXY> was a shade softer at 96.314.

In commodity markets, gold looked to have lost its safe-haven halo and slid to its lowest since late January 2017. It was last down at $1,1194.20 an ounce <XAU=>.

U.S. government data out last week showed that gold speculators had lifted their bearish bets to a record.

Holdings of the largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York’s SPDR Gold Trust GLD, have dropped about 10 percent from their April peak and are at their lowest since February 2016. <HLDSPDRGT=XAU>

Oil prices rose after a report from OPEC confirmed that top exporter Saudi Arabia had cut production to avert looming oversupply. [O/R]

Brent gained 26 cents to $72.87 a barrel <LCc1>, while U.S. crude added 28 cents to $67.48 <CLc1>.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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