Asian shares fell overnight amid mixed corporate earnings across the region, with the regional benchmark index falling some 0.4 percent. Sony was one of the notable poor performers, sliding around 6 percent as Japanese exporters wrestle with a rising yen. Less than 50 percent of members that have reported earnings this season posted profits that beat analyst estimates.
Additionally, there have been mounting fears regarding the withdrawal of stimulus by the Federal Reserve, with economists predicting a reduction next month. With the markets having a good run of late, the combination of uninspiring earnings and fears of tapering could create some pressure selling in when the European markets open.
The dollar was also on the defensive, with a lack of clarity about the Fed’s stimulus plans in the coming months, as well as comments from Japanese ministers shooting down a media report earlier this week that the government is considering cuts in corporate tax.
The U.S unemployment claims data, due for release today at 13:30 will be hotly anticipated as the measure is regarded as leading indicator of the health of the economy. Investors will be seeking clues from the data, attempting to predict the timing of stimulus withdrawal.