Asian shares slip as investors pause

Asian shares have dipped slightly as the hot run in global markets takes a breather, with investors switching focus from vaccine hopes to disappointing US jobs data and new COVID-19 lockdowns.

Investors refrained from extending a rally in equities fuelled by vaccine optimism on Wednesday.

Stocks neared but missed the previous session’s record high, while oil continued to rise and the dollar lost some of its safe-haven luster.

Traders turned to riskier assets, including some funded in other currencies, following positive news about COVID-19 vaccines and a seemingly normal US transition of power earlier this week.

Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s reported nomination to Treasury Secretary has also emboldened risk bets and further weighed on the dollar.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.12 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.16 per cent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures were up 0.16 per cent. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.10 per cent.

“In the very short-term, there’s a strong argument we’re due for a pullback in risk assets,” said IG Australia markets analyst Kyle Rodda.

“Market internals look overstretched, the technicals suggest slightly overbought conditions and expectations of some pretty heavy end of month portfolio rebalancing looks likely to curtail upside momentum in stocks.”

In currency markets, the risk-sensitive Australian dollar fell 0.01 per cent versus the greenback to $0.736.

Figures from US weekly jobless claims suggested an explosion in new infections and business restrictions were boosting lay-offs and undermining the labor market recovery.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.57 per cent, having earlier hit a record high.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average 0.58 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 0.16 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite increased 0.47 per cent.

“But sentiment overall remains very bullish,” Rodda said.

“The hope for a return to normal economic activity in 2021 is giving the markets all it needs to continue take on risk, with only a completely unforeseen event likely to kill that trend.”

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.08 per cent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.04 per cent.

Data showing a surprise drop in weekly US crude inventories extended a rally in oil prices driven by hopes avaccine will boost fuel demand.

US crude recently rose 0.22 per cent to $US45.81 per barrel and Brent was $US48.90, up 2.17 per cent on the day.

The dollar index fell 0.151 per cent, with the euro up 0.03 per cent to $1.1916.

Spot gold added 0.1 per cent to $1,807.68 an ounce. US gold futures gained 0.03 per cent to $1,806.00 an ounce.

US markets are closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and bonds and stocks will trade on a partial Friday schedule.

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