Asian Equities Lower as Global Shares Struggle

Asian shares slipped on Monday and the dollar stayed near a four-month low against a basket of major currencies after soft data raised doubts over whether the U.S. economy has been growing despite U.S. share prices standing at historic highs.  MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.4 percent, although Japan’s Nikkei share average .N225 edged up just 0.4 percent thanks to some companies’ move to boost shareholder returns.

U.S. industrial production unexpectedly fell for a fifth straight month in April while consumer confidence dropped to a seven-month low in early May, data showed on Friday, pushing down the dollar and U.S. bond yields.  Coming on the heels of weak retail sales and producer inflation data, the reports stoked concerns that the U.S. economy is hardly gaining momentum after disappointing 0.2 percent annualized growth in January-March.

Questions have arisen over whether the economy grew at all in the last quarter.  “U.S. GDP will likely be revised down in the next update to show a contraction. We estimate the U.S. economy shrank 0.9 percent,” said Shuji Shirota, head of macro economics strategy group at HSBC in Tokyo.