Asian stocks stall on Wall Street pullback, euro gains before ECB meet

A pedestrian walks past a market quotation indicator board in Tokyo.
A pedestrian walks past a market quotation indicator board in Tokyo. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian stocks stalled on Thursday (Oct 26), weighed as Wall Street shares pulled back from record highs, while the euro stretched gains ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting at which it could take a major step away from accommodative policy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.05 per cent. Australian stocks dipped 0.2 per cent while South Korea's KOSPI lost 0.1 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei, which had snapped a 16-day winning run the previous day, rose 0.35 per cent.

US stocks fell on Wednesday on a batch of soft quarterly earnings, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst day in seven weeks after rising to a record peak the previous session.

In currency markets, the euro added to overnight gains to reach a six-day high of US$1.1820, prompted by expectations that the ECB would cut back on its bond-buying stimulus and take the biggest step yet in unwinding years of loose monetary policy.

The central bank, however, is still concerned about low inflation and is expected to accompany the tapering with an extension of the stimulus in a "less-but-for-longer" move.

"The focal point is how long the ECB decides to spend on tapering its bond buying. If the ECB opts to spend more than six months to taper, it will lead to thoughts that it won't be able to move onto hiking interest rates until 2019," said Junichi Ishikawa, senior forex strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

"The ECB could be seen as dovish in such a case and in turn weigh on the euro."

The dollar was 0.1 per cent lower at 113.605 yen.

The greenback rose to a three-month high of 114.245 yen overnight as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield spiked to a seven-month peak of 2.475 per cent.

But the dollar pared the gains as the Treasury yield retraced its rise amid the drop in Wall Street shares. The 10-year Treasury yield last stood at 2.429 per cent.

The dollar index against a basket of six currencies was down 0.1 per cent at 93.601, its lowest in six days.

The pound added to overnight gains and brushed US$1.3276, its highest in 10 days. Sterling climbed almost 1 per cent the previous day after stronger-than-expected UK growth data cemented expectations the Bank of England will raise interest rates next week.

US crude oil futures was 0.1 per cent lower at US$52.13 per barrel following data on Wednesday that showed a surprising increase in US crude inventories.

Brent crude slipped 0.1 per cent to US$58.41 per barrel.