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Asian shares lose ground after Wall Street stumble

A man rides a bicycle past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, on July 4, 2017. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Asian shares lost ground on Friday after a weak session on Wall Street, while global sovereign debt yields were elevated across the board on bets the European Central Bank is moving ever closer towards unwinding its massive monetary stimulus.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.3 per cent, after the Dow lost 0.7 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 1 per cent on Thursday, partly as higher Treasury yields dimmed the appeal of equities.

Japan’s Nikkei was down 0.5 per cent, South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.3 per cent and Australian stocks declined 1 per cent.

The prospect of the ECB turning off the flow of easy money has been a dominant global market theme since President Mario Draghi’s hawkish comments last week, pushing bond yields higher and hurting equities.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell to an 11-week low the previous day and the German 10-year bund yield hovered near an 18-month high after the ECB’s June meeting minutes showed the central bank opening the door to dropping a long-standing bond buying pledge.

“Expectations that the European Central Bank and other central banks joining the Federal Reserve in moving towards tighter policies are causing a diversification of funds away from Treasuries,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior forex strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

“The key point is that higher U.S. yields also tend to weigh on high-tech sectors by increasing their funding costs.”

The 10-year Treasury note yield stood at 2.373 per cent after reaching 2.391 on Thursday, its highest in nearly two months. With more focus on the euro zone bond market’s rise in yields, Treasuries brushed off Thursday’s weaker-than-expected U.S. ADP employment data.

The 10-year Japanese government bond (JGB) yield reached 0.105 per cent, its highest since February.

In currencies, the euro was steady at $1.1421 after gaining about 0.6 per cent overnight as Thursday’s soft U.S. employment data weighed on the dollar.

The dollar was steady at 113.175 yen, nudging away from an intraday high of 113.470 marked overnight. The dollar index was a shade higher at 95.855.

Activity in the markets was limited ahead of the closely watched U.S. non-farm jobs report due later in the day.

Much focus was on the wage component of the employment report and whether spending by U.S. consumers would be strong enough to back the Fed’s intention to further tighten policy.

Crude oil prices slipped after a sharp but short-lived boost from a bigger-than-expected decline in U.S. inventories of crude and gasoline faded.

U.S. crude and Brent both declined 0.9 per cent to $45.09 and $47.67 a barrel, respectively.

Gold and silver extended their decline with higher U.S. yields denting the allure of non-yielding precious metals.

Spot gold was 0.25 per cent lower at $1,221.60 an ounce. Silver was down about 1 per cent at $15.81 an ounce after momentarily dropping to $14.86.