GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares skid to 4-week low, euro hit by ECB rate cut

Hideyuki Sano
Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 | 10:40 PM ET

* Surprise ECB rate cut hits euro, boosts dollar

* US headline GDP beats expectations but fails to impress stocks

* Wall Street shares tumble on weak earnings

* Fed tapering talk may gain momentum if payroll data strong

* Oil near 4-month low on rising dollar, easing West-Iran tensions

TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Asian shares slumped to a four-week low on Friday after Wall Street suffered its biggest fall in more than two months, while a surprise interest rate cut by the European Central Bank knocked down the euro to a seven-week low.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 percent, and Japan's Nikkei average dropped 0.9 percent to its lowest in one month.

Markets in Asia took their cues from a rough night on Wall Street as weak earnings saw the Dow Jones industrial average slide 0.97 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index tumble 1.32 percent.

China's exports rose more than expected in October, rebounding from a surprise fall in the previous month, but the data failed to boost regional shares.

Global shares could face more pressure if the U.S. jobs report due at 1230 GMT shows that economic damage from a 16-day-long government shutdown was limited, fanning expectations of a reduction in the Federal Reserve's stimulus.

Economists forecast 125,000 jobs were created in October, slowing from 148,000 jobs in September.

"If we see job growth of around 200,000, then the markets will surely start to think about tapering in December," said a senior prop trader at a major Japanese bank.

Data on Thursday showed U.S. growth accelerated to 2.8 percent in July-September, well above economists' forecast of 2.0 percent growth. However, the data also showed that consumer spending growth was the slowest in two years and inventory increases accounted for much of the gains.

Still, the dollar strengthened on the U.S. data, with the dollar's index against a basket of major currencies hitting an eight-week high of 81.46 on Thursday. It last stood at 80.88 .

The euro slipped to a seven-week low of $1.3295 on Thursday after the ECB cut borrowing costs to a record low of 0.25 percent in response to a sharp drop in inflation.

It last traded at $1.3410, down 3 percent from a two-year high of $1.3833 set just two weeks ago.


Some emerging-market currencies have been under pressure in the past two weeks as investors interpreted the Fed's policy statement at its latest meeting on Oct. 29-30 as less dovish than they had anticipated.

Brazil's real, the South African rand and the Chilean peso all hit two-month lows against the dollar on Thursday, although their Asian peers fared a bit better.

The dollar's strength suppressed oil prices, with Brent crude hitting a four-month low of $103.24 a barrel. Plentiful crude supplies and progress in talks over Iran's disputed nuclear programme also weighed on oil.

U.S. Treasuries maintained gains made after the ECB's rate cut, with the 10-year bond yield standing at 2.60 percent , near this week's low.

While talk of tapering the Fed's stimulus is negative for bonds, the latest talking point in the bond sphere was research papers by Fed officials that make the case for promising to hold interest rates lower for longer.

The papers, published at a time when Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen is preparing to succeed Ben Bernanke, are seen as a crucial guide to Yellen's thinking on monetary policy.

"Some Fed officials are keen not to expand its balance sheet. So the Fed could start reducing bond buying but it could instead reinforce its forward guidance," said Arihiro Nagata, chief of foreign bond trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.