Asian Shares Fall Ahead Of G7 Meeting

Asian stocks fell broadly on Friday after weak earnings from Macy’s sent shares of American retailers plunging overnight and stoked worries about weak consumer spending in the U.S.

Heightened political uncertainty in Washington triggered by President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI chief James Comey and the improving odds of a June rate hike also kept underlying sentiment cautious.

China’s Shanghai Composite index climbed 22.01 points or 0.72 percent to 3,083.51 after China’s central bank injected fresh funds through a medium-term lending facility to keep liquidity stable.

China will host the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) over two days starting May 14 in Beijing with an aim to revive an ancient trade route connecting the Middle Kingdom, Central Asia and Europe.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was marginally higher at 25,156 in late trade after reports that China is making preparations to support the Hong Kong stock market if needed before an expected July 1 visit by President Xi Jinping.

Japanese shares eased from 17-month highs as the yen rose against the dollar ahead of the G7 summit in Italy due this weekend and investors digested a slew of corporate earnings.

The benchmark Nikkei average shed 77.65 points or 0.39 percent to finish at 19,883.90, but ended up more than 2 percent for the week amid the historical election, diminished political risks out of Europe and a slight easing in tensions over the Korean peninsula.

The broader Topix index closed 0.39 percent lower at 1,580.71. Automaker Nissan Motor rallied 3 percent despite forecasting a surprise drop in annual profit.

Australian shares drifted lower as banks retreated once again, offsetting gains in the materials sector. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 41.40 points or 0.70 percent to 5,836.90, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 41.10 points or 0.70 percent at 5,870.90.

ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac slid between 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent and investment bank Macquarie Group lost over 1 percent on concerns that it will be extremely difficult for banks to pass on all of the federal government’s proposed A$6.2 billion levy to customers.

Energy majors Oil Search, Santos, Beach Energy and Origin Energy fell 1-3 percent. Higher copper prices lifted mining stocks, with BHP Billiton rising 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto adding 0.4 percent.

Gold miners Newcrest, Norther Star and Evolution Mining climbed 2-3 percent as gold rebounded from two-month lows. Monash IVF tumbled almost 4 percent as its CEO resigned after eight years at the helm.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 37.33 points or 0.50 percent to 7,452.38 and 10-year bond yields hit over three-week low, a day after the Reserve Bank issued an unexpectedly dovish policy statement.

New Zealand’s manufacturing sector continued to expand in April, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Business NZ showed today. Another report from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand revealed that house prices in the country…

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