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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks stressed as Nikkei slides 3.2 pct

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Mon, May 27, 2013 06:30 hrs

* Markets wary after last week's Nikkei volatility

* Nikkei down 3 pct but above 50-day moving average

* UK, US markets closed for public holidays

By Ian Chua and Vidya Ranganathan

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, May 27 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei index slid more than three percent on Monday, extending last week's severe volatility and leading investors to worry that a bout of profit-taking had turned into lasting doubts about economic growth and broader appetite for risk.

Last week's shakeout of equity, bond and currency markets was triggered by doubts over how much weakness in the yen Japanese policymakers would tolerate, concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve would reduce monetary stimulus soon, and weakness in Chinese manufacturing data.

But U.S. equities ended off their lows on Friday while U.S. 10-year Treasury yields steadied near 2 percent, suggesting to investors the dollar will resume its rally against the yen and other markets will be calmer.

Financial bookmakers bet European stocks would bounce on Monday, with U.S. and U.K. markets shut. Spreadbetter IG expected Germany's DAX to open 0.6 percent higher and France's CAC 40 to open 24 points higher, halting a two-day slide.

In Asia, Tokyo stocks fell 3.2 percent to 14,142.65, Philippine shares fell 2.3 percent and Indonesia's share index dropped 1.3 percent.

The dollar was last down 0.3 percent at 101.01, not far off a two-week trough of 100.66 hit on Friday.

"It is a little bit early to get too caught up in a bearish view," said Adrian Mowat, chief emerging markets strategist at JPMorgan, based in Hong Kong.

"The Nikkei's still above the 50-day moving average and Japan was very overbought."

The Nikkei average dropped 7.3 percent on Thursday, its largest single-day loss since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan has risen 6.5 percent in a little over a year. It edged down 0.15 percent on Monday after having skidded 2.6 percent last week to one-month lows, posting its biggest fall since May 2012.

"Last week's shock will probably last throughout this week," said Kenichi Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana Securities. "But the Japanese market's fundamentals in the mid-to-long term have not changed, so there still is upside in the longer term."

Other Asian stock markets were likewise still under stress, having suffered their biggest weekly drop in around a year as investors fretted about the possibility of the Fed dialing down its stimulus programme as well as a slowing Chinese economy.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.4 percent, but South Korea's KOSPI managed to eke out a 0.3 percent gain.

"While the market reaction looked a tad overdone, it is notable that the dichotomy between growth and equity market performance has widened over recent weeks implying that equity markets were prone to a correction," Mitul Kotecha, head of markets research at Credit Agricole said in a note to clients.

DOLLAR BIDS TO EMERGE?

Supporting the view that the Fed may soon scale down its massive stimulus programme, data on Friday showed orders for US-made durable goods rose more than expected in April, a hopeful sign that a sharp slowdown in factory output could soon run its course.

That should be music to the ears of dollar bulls. Indeed, figures on Friday showed currency speculators increased bets in favour of the greenback to the highest since at least June 2008.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's performance against a currency basket, hit a three-year high last week before succumbing to a bit of pressure. It was almost flat at 83.59.

Much of the excitement in currency markets last week centred on the yen as turbulence in the Nikkei prompted investors to book profits on bearish yen positions. That saw the dollar recoil from a 4-1/2 year high of 103.74 yen set on May 22.

Still, traders expect the yen's downtrend to remain intact after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) last month unleashed the world's most intense burst of stimulus.

On Sunday, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the bank will be vigilant to any signs of overheating of asset prices or excessive risk-taking by financial institutions, adding that there were no signs of that now.

Commodity markets were subdued with UK and U.S. financial markets closed on Monday for public holidays. There is also little in the way of major economic news due out of Asia.

"A calmer tone to markets ought to ensure that yen upside will be limited and dollar buyers are likely to emerge just below the dollar-yen 100 level," Kotecha said.

"The potential for a renewed yen decline as well as some stabilisation in risk appetite will give some relief to Asian currencies this week as will a relatively firm yuan."

China's central bank fixed the tightly managed yuan's mid-point versus the dollar at 6.1811. It was the highest fixing since the landmark revaluation in 2005.

In the spot market, the yuan was barely changed, at 6.1316 to a dollar.




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