SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares rose on Thursday, cheered by gains on Wall Street, but Apple skidded on the shock resignation of Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs and gold continued to struggle after running into a wall of profit-taking.
Shares of Apple tumbled as much as 7 percent in after-hours trade in a knee-jerk reaction to news that Jobs resigned as chief executive of the world’s most valuable technology firm.
“Apple will need to show that without Jobs it can come up with visionary products,” said Hendi Susanto, analyst at Gabelli & Co.
U.S. stock index futures were off 0.1 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq futures fell about 1.0 percent.
Spot gold fell to around $1,741.06 an ounce, down some 9 percent since hitting a record high of $1,911.46 on Tuesday. COMEX futures for the precious metal fell over $100 on Wednesday, the biggest one-day drop since 1980 and one of the steepest on record.
Bullion had surged $400 since July as worries about a global recession sent investors scrambling for the safe-haven asset. The intensity of the move prompted some analysts to call for gold investors to take money off the table.
While traders attributed the unwinding of long positions as the main factor driving down gold as well as U.S. Treasuries, the moves also came at a time when better U.S. economic data helped lighten the market’s bleak mood.
Data on Wednesday showing a rise in new orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods held out hope the ailing economy could dodge a second recession.
Still, the market focus is firmly on a speech by U.S. central bank chief Ben Bernanke on Friday at the Federal Reserve’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which some investors hope will contain fresh steps to bolster the economy.
“Basically people are covering short positions before Jackson Hole. I’m sure he will comment on the possibility of easing but I doubt he can explicitly indicate QE3,” Hideyuki Ishiguro, assistant manager of investment strategy at Okasan Securities.
“Looking ahead to the next month, the downside risk still looks larger than the upside risk,” he added.
Japan’s Nikkei share average advanced 1.4 percent, while stocks elsewhere in Asia as measured by MSCI put on 1.2 percent.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index, South Korea’s volatile KOSPI and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index all gained more than 1 percent.
In the currency markets, the ebb and flow of hopes that the Fed will announce more stimulus created choppy moves in familiar ranges.
The euro traded around $1.4400, down from this week’s peak near $1.4500. But it remained in the middle of a prevailing $1.4300-$1.4500 range.
This saw the dollar index edge back above 74.000, still stuck in slim range roughly between 73.400 and 74.400.
Against the yen, the dollar trimmed early gains to last stand at 76.84 . It held above an all-time low around 75.94 plumbed Friday.
“The dollar might rise a bit above 77.23 yen, its August 22 high, if market players try to trigger stop-loss buying,” a trader said.
Copper was little changed at $8,885 per tonne, while U.S. crude was down 8 cents at $85.08 a barrel, down from a session high of $85.64.