TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks slipped on Wednesday, pressured by losses on Wall Street as the technology sector stuttered yet again after a brief rebound, while the dollar sagged on lower long-term U.S. yields.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS inched down 0.2 percent.
The S&P 500 information technology index .SPLRCT barely rose overnight as it gave up much of the 1.4 percent intraday gains. The year’s top-performing sector was still down nearly 4 percent over the past week, with investors shifting money to banks, retailers and other stocks seen as likely to benefit the most from tax cuts promised by U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The retreat in U.S. shares coincides with profit taking by investors before they close their books for the year-end. A lot of such year-end window dressing already appears to have taken place in emerging market equities,” said Kota Hirayama, senior emerging markets economist at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.
“The main focal point for emerging market equities is how U.S. yields move towards the year end. The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy stance for next year bears close watching due to its impact on U.S. yields, and in turn the various equity markets.”
Fed funds futures prices showed that investors see a rate increase at Federal Reserve’s Dec. 12-13 meeting as a done deal and much of the focus is on the outlook for rates in 2018 and beyond.
The two-year Treasury yield US2YT=RR reached a nine-year high overnight as the market increasingly expected the U.S. Congress to pass tax reform legislation and the Fed to tighten policy.
But the 10-year Treasury yield US10YT=RR fell overnight, flattening the yield curve further. The curve has flattened as investors see limited room for long-term U.S. inflation.
The dollar dipped, weighed by sagging long-term U.S. yields. The dollar index against six major currencies slipped 0.05 percent to 93.337 .DXY.
The pound extended overnight losses and last stood at $1.3412 GBP=D3 for a loss of 0.2 percent. It came under pressure after Sky News said that a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May has been foiled.
Sterling had fallen to as low as $1.3370 on Tuesday on disappointment after May failed to clinch a deal to open talks on post-Brexit free trade with the European Union.
In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 were down 0.3 percent at $57.44 per barrel after American Petroleum Institute data showed that U.S. gasoline stocks and distillate inventories rose more than expected last week.
Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Shri Navaratnam