Asia struggles to match Wall St's record-breaking streak

Dec 27 2013, 09:29 IST
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SummaryDealers blame thin year-end conditions for a failure to match Wall Street.

Asian markets were struggling to match the performance of Wall Street on Friday even as Japanese economic data impressed and the dollar tested the 105 yen barrier for the first time in five years.

Tokyo's Nikkei started well enough but the early six-year peak attracted profit-takers and nudged it 0.4 percent lower.

Australian shares had made the running with a rise of 0.3 percent, heading for a fifth session of gains. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan managed to add only 0.1 percent.

Dealers blamed thin year-end conditions for a failure to match Wall Street, where the Dow had added 0.75 percent to make another all-time top. The S&P 500 rose 0.47 percent bringing its gains for the year so far to 29 percent.

Still, the benchmark Nikkei remains 55 percent higher for the year, its best annual performance since 1972, driven by Japan's aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus.

The effort seems to be working with figures out Friday showing Japanese manufacturing activity expanding at the fastest clip in more than seven years while firms added workers at the quickest pace in over six years.

Other data showed Japan's core consumer price inflation running at a five-year high, marking steady progress towards ending a decade-and-a-half of grinding deflation.

All the money printing by the Bank of Japan has lifted the dollar 22 percent against the yen so far this year in the largest annual rise since 1979.

The greenback was up at 104.93 yen on Friday having been as far as 105.00. Option-related offers are crowded around the 105 level making it tough resistance.

The euro also hit a five-year high of 143.87 yen, and was last at 143.73. The single currency was a shade firmer on the dollar at $1.3703, but still some way off last week's high of $1.3811.

While the euro zone's recovery is seen as sluggish, the currency has been underpinned by European banks' repatriation as well as buying by euro zone exporters as the region's current account surplus has increased sharply.

Supporting the dollar has been a rise in U.S. Treasury yields, with the 10-year note touching 3 percent again.

When yields got to these heights back in September it spooked the equity markets, in part because of fears rising mortgage rates would hurt the recovery in housing.

This time a run of upbeat data have reassured investors that the economy can withstand higher borrowing costs.

Figures out on Thursday underlined the improving outlook for jobs as

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