Asia shares slip as soft U.S. data dims mood

Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:57pm EDT
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By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) - 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.

Dealers said 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.

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 0.38 percent.

Australia's main index .AXJO shed 1.3 percent, while Nikkei futures JNIc1 pointed to an opening loss of around 150 points.

On Wall Street, the drop in technology stocks knocked the Nasdaq IXIC. down 2.37 percent for its biggest decline in nearly a year. The Dow .DJI fell 1.62 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 1.46 percent.

Bucking the trend, Kraft Foods KRFT.O surged 36 percent after a merger agreement with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co, owned by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway (BRKb.N: Quote).

Not helping equities was data showing spending on U.S. durable goods fell for a sixth straight month in February, fresh evidence that economic growth slowed sharply early in the year, in part due to bad weather.

That was just the latest in a run of soft U.S. indicators, a contrast to Europe where the news has been getting better.   Continued...

A woman wearing a Hakama, or Japanese traditional Kimono, holds her mobile phone as she walks past an electronic board, showing the stock market indices of various countries, outside a brokerage in Tokyo, March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino