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Asian shares jittery ahead of China GDP; oil hits fresh highs

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian shares were on edge on Monday morning ahead of the release of Chinese economic data for the third quarter, as investors fret about the health of the world’s second-largest economy even as U.S companies report strong quarterly earnings.

FILE PHOTO: A man watches an electric board showing Nikkei index outside a brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan, June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Oil prices hit new multi-year peaks, continuing their recent surge amid a global energy shortage, with U.S. crude at a fresh seven-year high and Brent at a three-year high.

Meanwhile, bitcoin was within sight of its all-time high, sitting at $62,500 and not far from April’s record of $64,895, having gained last week on hopes that U.S. regulators would allow a futures-based exchange-traded fund (ETF).

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed in early trading on Monday, off 0.07%, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.12%. U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were down 0.13%.

Stocks globally finished last week in a bullish mood posting their best day in five months on Friday as strong U.S. corporate earnings reports fuelled optimism about the economy, although firm oil prices kept inflation risks alive and lifted government bond yields.

The Chinese data dump is likely to show that gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.2% in July-September from a earlier – the weakest pace since the third quarter of 2020, according to the median forecasts of 56 economists polled by Reuters.

Barclays analysts said in a note that they expected GDP to slow “in view of persistent weakness in consumption and services amid repeated COVID outbreaks, and the fading of the low year-earlier base.”

Investors also pointed to power shortages, supply bottlenecks and rising jitters over the property sector, as the saga over the fate of beleaguered property developer China Evergrande Group rumbles on.

Yi Gang, the governor of China’s central bank said on Sunday China’s economy was “doing well”, but faced challenges such as default risks for certain firms due to “mismanagement”.

Elsewhere, investors are continuing to position themselves for the U.S. Federal Reserve to start tapering its massive asset purchases this year.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 1.5904% on Monday, heading back towards the four-month high of 1.6310% hit early Tuesday, before a wobble later in the week.

Analysts at CBA said they expect U.S. rates can lift further as inflation pressure builds, supporting the U.S. dollar which “has further upside on our view”

The pound could gain on the dollar this week as “UK economic and inflation dynamics support the upward shift to the UK interest rates”, while the Chinese yuan traded off-shore could be hurt by Chinese GDP data, they added.

In early trading on Monday, most currencies were quiet. The greenback was little changed against a basket its peers at 93.992, off its one-year high of 94.563 hit last Monday, while the yen hovered near its almost three-year low against the dollar.

U.S. crude was last up 0.92% at $83.04 a barrel, while Brent crude was last 0.57% higher at $85.35 per barrel.

Gold was last up 0.14% at $1,769.60 an ounce, after falling 1.5% on Friday on higher U.S. bond yields and a rise in U.S. retail sales.

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