TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares steadied on Thursday as investors took to the sidelines, waiting for more clues over the timing and extent of any further stimulus to tackle the euro zone’s debt crisis and support global growth.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was barely changed after falling 0.5 percent on Wednesday, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average .N225 opened up 0.5 percent. .T
U.S. stocks, the dollar and most commodities markets rose on Wednesday while the euro and U.S. Treasury prices fell after data showing U.S. industry output rose 0.6 percent in July. The report followed strong July retail sales and July employment data released earlier in the month.
“Although economic data remain mixed, signs of stabilization continue to emerge,” Barclays Capital analysts said in a note, adding that recent U.S. data has scaled back expectations for the Federal Reserve to embark on another round of bond buying at its meeting in September.
“An undoing of market expectations on Fed easing has been reflected in higher U.S. yields, but has yet to affect market volatility, which remains at low levels. We see both channels supporting the USD in the coming days. The lack of news in the euro area belies tensions there, as key European decisions lie ahead,” they said.
Against the yen, the dollar rose to a one-month high above 79.055 yen. The euro traded at $1.2290, after touching a low of $1.2264 the previous session.
Euro zone debt crisis: r.reuters.com/hyb65p
U.S. inflation: link.reuters.com/sus99s
U.S. industrial output: link.reuters.com/kys99s
Markets have been driven by expectations for policy responses to tackle the three-year euro zone debt crisis since the European Central Bank earlier this month suggested it could start buying sovereign bonds to ease borrowing costs for Spain, under certain conditions.
Sluggish U.S. growth in the second-quarter and global growth significantly undermined by the euro zone crisis have also raised hopes for the Fed to take further easing steps.
While generally tepid growth prospects globally would justify more action, government bond markets have reacted negatively on uncertainty over the timing and the extent of any Fed easing, as recent data has pointed to recovery in third-quarter.
Following a slew of weak data earlier this month, China suggested it could also take more stimulus steps.
Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted by state media as saying on Wednesday that China’s economy faces big headwinds though cooling inflation is giving the government more leeway to manoeuvre monetary policy.
(Editing by Richard Pullin)