Asian shares slide as investors ponder stimulus outlook


July 5 (Reuters) – Asian shares snapped a five-day winning streak on Tuesday as investors took stock of a rally driven by hopes that central banks will provide more stimulus to offset a likely downturn triggered by Brexit.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.7 percent, but was still within reach of its June 9 peak, having risen 5.6 percent from its low after the Brexit vote on June 23.

Japan’s Nikkei dropped 0.9 percent.

Chinese shares rose, with the CSI 300 up 0.3 percent, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.6 percent, buoyed in part by a private business survey which showed growth in the services sector jumped to an 11-month high. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 0.8 percent.

But trade was thin, with financial and commodities markets in the United States closed on Monday for Independence Day.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.6 percent, snapping its four-day winning streak, led by a 1.6 percent decline in bank shares.

Shares in Italian banks, saddled with a mountain of bad loans, dropped 3.7 percent after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s spokesman said the country had no plans to pump public money into its banks, a move that could be seen as defying EU rules.

Oil prices retreated as analysts predicted demand will weaken amid concerns about the global economic outlook.

Brent crude slipped 0.7 percent to $49.74 a barrel, after gaining 6.2 percent over the week through Monday.

U.S. crude slipped 1.2 percent to $48.41, eating into the 5.7 percent advance made over the prior week.

Overnight the price of precious and base metals hit multi-month highs before giving up gains as traders bet on more stimulus.

Silver relinquished some of its gains from the past few sessions that had sent it to a two-year high of $21.107 an ounce on Monday. The metal, which rose 14.6 percent over the week ended Monday, fell 1.8 percent to $19.93.

Gold also closed at a two-year high of $1,357.40 per ounce on Monday and last stood at $1,344.56.

The price of copper and aluminium hit two-month highs on Monday while lead hit a four-month peak.

“Various commodities are rising even though there is no clear sign of sudden improvement in demand in each market,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

“Their rally seems to be driven by hopes of stimulus.”

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has ramped up the urgency for some Asian central banks to ease monetary policy, as a prolonged period of uncertainty threatens a wider downshift in trade and investment.

Many investors expect the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan to expand their monetary easing. Base metal prices were also bolstered by talk of stimulus in China.

The euro slid 0.2 percent to $1.11305, but retained most of the gains made since its 3 1/2-month low of $1.0912 hit in the wake of the UK referendum.

The Bank of England has indicated it could provide stimulus measures to support the economy in coming months.

That kept the pound close to its 31-year trough hit in the wake of the Brexit decision.

Sterling dropped 0.3 percent to $1.3253, just one percent above its June 27 low of $1.3122.

The yen strengthened 0.4 percent to 102.16 to the dollar.

The Australian dollar pulled back 0.3 percent to $0.7515. On Monday, it shrugged off political uncertainty caused by Australia’s undecided general election to rise to $0.7545, its highest level since June 24, helped by the advance in commodities.

The Australian central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged at its policy announcement at 0430 GMT.

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