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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares slip, Microsoft's brisk earnings boost tech sector

Stock MarketsJan 27, 2021 04:48
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© Reuters.

* Ex-Japan Asia down 0.3%, slim gains seen in Japan, Korea,
Taiwan
* Investors expect Fed to keep dovish stance
* Microsoft shares up 4% after strong earnings

By Hideyuki Sano and Alwyn Scott
TOKYO/NEW YORK, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Asian equities slipped on
Wednesday as investors looked to the Federal Reserve's guidance
on its monetary policy while futures for U.S. tech shares jumped
after strong earnings from Microsoft.
MSCI's gauge of Asian ex-Japan shares .MIAPJ0000PUS
slipped 0.3%, dragged lower by profit-taking in resource shares
.MIAPJMT00PUS as some investors have grown wary of stretched
valuations.
But Japan's Nikkei .N225 rose 0.2% and the region's
tech-heavy markets, such as South Korea .KS11 and Taiwan
.TWII eked out small gains, helped by 0.5% rises in Nasdaq
futures NQcv1 after Microsoft's MSFT.N brisk quarterly
results.
Microsoft shares rose 4% in extended trading after its Azure
cloud computing services grew more 50%. The results boosted
optimism for other U.S. tech giants, including Apple AAPL.O
and Facebook FB.O , which announce quarterly results later in
the day.
"Microsoft's earnings were superb, even compared with strong
market expectations," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment
strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
"Those tech firm shares have been in a bit of the doldrums
since August but they are likely to lead the market again, given
their solid outlook," he said.
At their peak in August, the combined market capitalisation
of the top five biggest U.S. tech companies, which also include
Amazon AMZN.O and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) GOOG.O , reached 24.6% of the U.S.
blue chip S&P500 index. It stood at 22.7%, still well above 15%
two years ago.
S&P500 futures ESc1 were mostly flat, capped by caution
ahead of the Fed's policy meeting as well as profit-taking on
cyclical shares after stellar gains this month.
The S&P500 is now trading at 22.7 times its expected
earnings, near its September peak of 23.1 times, which was its
most inflated level since the dotcom bubble in 2000.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is due to announce results of its
two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Analysts expect the Fed to
stick to its dovish tone to help speed the economic recovery.
U.S. stimulus talks are also in focus with U.S. Senate
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying Democrats will move forward
on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan
without Republican support if necessary. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR were yielding 1.040%,
having hit a three-week low of 1.028% on Tuesday on rising
speculation Biden may have to scale back and possibly delay his
ambitious stimulus plan.
The U.S. dollar was little moved as investors awaited the
Fed's decision for clues on whether they should buy riskier
currencies.
The dollar index =USD flirted with this week's low at
90.211, while the euro EUR= held firm at $1.2162.
Sterling GBP= rose 0.1% to $1.3735, its highest level
since May 2018 while the Japanese yen edged back slightly to
103.71 per dollar JPY= after a small gain the previous day.
The Australian dollar was little changed at $0.7744
AUD=D4 , showing muted response to stronger-than-expected local
inflation data. Oil prices were supported by economic optimism, with U.S.
crude futures CLc1 trading up 0.3% at $52.79 per barrel.
The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for
global growth in 2021, as widely expected, and many investors
expect the global economic recovery from the pandemic-driven
downturn to continue. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Global assets http://tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl
Global currencies vs. dollar http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
Emerging markets http://tmsnrt.rs/2ihRugV
MSCI All Country World Index Market Cap http://tmsnrt.rs/2EmTD6j
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Sam Holmes)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares slip, Microsoft's brisk earnings boost tech sector
 

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