GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares fall on China, Intel; dollar rises after Bernanke

Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:41am EDT

* Dollar extends modest overnight gains after Bernanke remarks

* Intel cuts 2013 revenue f'cast, capex

* European index futures signal weaker open

* China shares down on financing concerns

By Dominic Lau

TOKYO, July 18 (Reuters) - Asian shares fell on Thursday, as concerns over financing available to property developers hurt Chinese markets, although overall sentiment was supported by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's pledge to keep monetary policy easy for the foreseeable future.

Regional tech-related stocks were hit by U.S. Intel Corp's dismal annual revenue forecast and capital spending cuts, rooted in softer personal computer sales and weakness in China, one of its biggest markets.

The dollar extended modest overnight gains after Bernanke stuck to a timeline that he first outlined in June to wind down the Federal Reserve's $85 billion a month bond-buying programme, but he went out of his way to stress that nothing was set in stone.

European stock futures eased 0.4 percent, indicating a weaker open, while U.S. S&P 500 index futures slipped 0.2 percent ahead of quarterly results from Google, Microsoft and Morgan Stanley, and a weekly jobless claims report.

China's CSI300 share index shed 1.6 percent, hitting a one-week low and lately forming a "death cross" - a bearish signal - with the 50-day moving average breaking below the 200-day moving average. The index has lost nearly 11 percent this year.

Speculation swirled in China's cash market on Thursday of another credit squeeze after an early spike in the overnight rate ahead of imminent tax payments by banks. However, rates quickly fell back amid talk of action by major state-owned banks.

The pace of the monthly rise in China's home prices slowed slightly in June for a third straight month, though the year-on-year gains were the strongest this year, underlining challenges faced by Beijing in its fight to tame housing inflation.

"Fears are growing that the liquidity shock a few weeks ago may be starting to trickle into the sector," said Lee Wee Liat, BNP Paribas head of Asia property.

China's frothy property market is seen by analysts as one of the biggest financial risks to the world's second-largest economy, along with the run-up of debt by local governments and the explosive growth of the opaque "shadow banking" system.

Chinese money market rates have moderated since the central bank allowed short-term borrowing costs to spike to record levels on June 20, bluntly messaging overstretched lenders that it was determined to get risky credit expansion under control.

Asian shares, as measured by the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index, slipped 0.4 percent, reversing an early rise that let them hover near a five-week high touched on Wednesday.

Seoul shares fell 0.6 percent, with index heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co Ltd down 2.1 percent partly due to Intel's grim outlook, while Taipei's share index dropped 0.8 percent.

Underscoring worries over China's economic slowdown, Japanese manufacturers' mood worsened in July for the first time in eight months, a Reuters poll showed.

Tokyo's Nikkei advanced 1.3 percent, however, helped by the yen weakness and a 4 percent rise for SoftBank Corp after China's e-commerce Alibaba Group, in which the Japanese mobile operator owns about 30 percent, nearly tripled its net income in the first three months of the year.

DOLLAR STRENGTHEN

The dollar gained 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies, adding to overnight gains after Bernanke's remarks.

The U.S. currency was up 0.5 percent at 100.095 yen, extending the previous session's 0.5 percent rise versus the yen, while the euro slipped 0.2 percent to $1.30940.

Bernanke's remarks to a U.S. congressional committee contained "something for everybody", said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington. "Bernanke has done a good job of leaving himself plenty of manoeuvre room in terms of policy."

The Fed chief's comments came as its Beige Book report of anecdotal information on business activity showed the U.S. economy continued to grow at a modest to moderate pace in June and early July, but U.S. housing data was disappointing.

In the commodity markets, gold inched up 0.1 percent after falling 1.3 percent on Wednesday, while copper prices dipped 0.1 to remained below $7,000 a tonne after falling 1.5 percent in the previous session.

Brent crude prices eased 0.1 percent to around $108.50 a barrel after gaining 0.6 percent on Wednesday after data from U.S. Energy Information Administration showed a fall in American crude stocks.

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