Asian shares off nine-month peak, European PMIs in focus

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares slipped on Thursday after losses on Wall Street but trade was subdued as investors awaited business surveys in Europe and largely stayed on the sidelines ahead of the long Easter weekend holiday.

FILE PHOTO: A man looks at an electronic board showing the Nikkei stock index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.2 percent, reversing course after brushing its highest since late July 2018 early in the trading session.

Australian shares held steady while Japan’s Nikkei was down nearly half a percent and Chinese blue chips dipped 0.3 percent.

Wall Street shares drifted lower on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 giving up 0.2 percent as a drop in healthcare equities outweighed upbeat economic data from the United States and China. [.N]

The U.S. trade deficit fell to an eight-month low in February as imports from China plunged, data on Wednesday showed.

Separate figures from China earlier in the day showed the world’s second-largest economy grew at a steady 6.4 percent pace in the first quarter, defying forecasts for a slowdown. Attention is now turning to how much more stimulus Beijing will