Asian Equities Tread Water

Asian shares lost early steadiness and Chinese stocks got off to a weak start on Thursday, while upbeat U.S. economic data helped the dollar gain as investors globally opted for caution due to Greece’s standoff with its creditors.  MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.13 percent following yet another weak opening in China’s benchmark indexes. Tokyo’s Nikkei climbed 1.1 percent thanks to a weaker yen, while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 percent.

Investors expected investors appetite for risk to be sapped in coming months by uncertainty over whether Greece can step back from an economic abyss after its debt default to the International Monetary Fund, and doubts over its future in the eurozone.  “We are shaping up for a bumpy ride in the summer as the ongoing Greek crisis means investors are adopting a risk-on, risk-off approach toward risky assets,” said Tai Hui, chief markets strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management in Hong Kong.

Chinese markets got off to a rocky start with the Shanghai index down more than 1 percent in opening trades after a near 5 percent slide yesterday, despite regulators announcing a raft of market friendly measures since last week, including an interest rate cut over the weekend.  Investors elsewhere fixed their eyes on Athens. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a referendum on Sunday that could determine his country’s future in Europe. On Wednesday, Tsipras urged Greeks to reject an international bailout deal, souring hopes of any breakthrough.