Asian stocks look set to finish the week in mostly negative territory

<p>Asian stocks look set to finish the week in mostly negative territory with the MSCI Asia Pacific index down around 0.8% at noon in Tokyo […]</p>

Asian stocks look set to finish the week in mostly negative territory with the MSCI Asia Pacific index down around 0.8% at noon in Tokyo trading. S&P500 index futures were last pointing to a fall of around 0.2%. In currencies, the Australian dollar fell against the US dollar, last trading at 1.0740, following a downward revision in growth and inflation assumptions from the Reserve Bank of Australia. The central bank sees 2012 growth at 3.5% down from its prior forecast of 4%. Inflation is also seen to stabilise towards the lower end of the 2-3% target band range.

The euro continues to trade strongly, consolidating recent gains, last at 1.327 against the US dollar on hopes that a Greek deal will soon be announced and formalized. The Australian dollar also fell against the Euro, back below 0.81 to last settle at 0.8088. The US dollar also continues to gain traction against the yen, last buying 77.59. In regional corporate news, Macau casino owner and operator booked a 560% increase in fourth quarter net profits to $107.5m on strong gaming volumes. Australian listed Newcrest Mining booked a higher than expected interim profit on strong gold and copper prices, offsetting production disruptions.

Regional economic news was dominated by China’s trade data. Overseas shipments in January decline 0.5% compared to the same period last year. Imports also fell by a very significant 15.3%. The net result was a trade surplus of $27.3bn but the composition surprised many, particularly the large fall in imports. The mixed picture from China – high inflation but flat consumption – does little help to spur regional confidence in equity markets which are anticipating easing at some point.

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