Asian shares slipped on Thursday as losses on Wall Street and soft U.S. economic data soured sentiment, while the dollar’s bull run looked to have stalled for the time being. Oil prices edged higher after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies launched air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters who have tightened their grip on the southern city of Aden where the country’s president had taken refuge.
U.S. crude CLc1 erased early losses to swing 61 cents higher at $49.82, while Brent crude LCOc1 added 73 cents to $57.21 a barrel. A dearth of economic data in Asia meant the path of least resistance was lower and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS eased 0.5 percent.
Australia’s main index .AXJO shed 1.5 percent, while the Nikkei .N225 lost 1 percent. Dealers said the synchronized selling in recently popular trades including biotech stocks, Treasuries and the dollar, smacked more of profit-taking for the quarter-end than a major shift in market trends.
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