Asian markets mixed, yen boosts TokyoBy Danny McCord
HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed on Thursday, with Tokyo the best performer as the yen weakened against the dollar owing to dimming expectations of fresh monetary easing by the US Federal Reserve.
With few catalysts to drive action during the holiday season, trade was light, although shares were kept buoyant by lingering hopes for a restart of sovereign bond-buying by the European Central Bank and new stimulus in China.
Tokyo rose 1.88 percent, or 167.72 points, to 9,092.76, Sydney climbed 1.14 percent, or 49.0 points, to 4,330.2 and Seoul closed flat, adding 0.95 points, to 1,957.91.
But Hong Kong gave up its morning gains and slipped 0.45 percent, or 89.34 points, to 19,962.95 while Shanghai shed 0.32 percent, or 6.75 points, to 2,112.20.
Exporters on Japan’s Nikkei were the main beneficiaries of the weakening yen, which eased to a four-week low against the dollar.
The dollar bought 79.18 yen in early European trade, up from 78.87 yen in New York late Wednesday.
“The current dollar/yen level is a big support for local shares, since large manufacturers forecast the dollar to average 78.95 yen this fiscal year,” Masayuki Doshida, Rakuten Securities senior market analyst in Japan, told Dow Jones Newswires.
A weaker yen makes exporters’ goods less expensive overseas.
Honda Motor closed up 2.09 percent while Mazda Motor was up 3.26 percent, electronics giant Panasonic surged 5.52 percent and Nippon Steel climbed 4.29 percent.
Also on forex markets the euro bought $1.2272 and 97.16 yen compared with $1.2285 and 96.91 yen in New York.
Traders have an eye on Europe as worries about Athens spiked again following a report in the Financial Times that Greece will call for a two-year extension to its tough austerity programme.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will make the request when he meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande next week, the newspaper said Wednesday.
“Concerns that this proposal may get short shrift when Greek PM Samaras meets with Mrs. Merkel and other EU leaders next week is set to keep euro sentiment fragile at best,” National Australia Bank said in a note.
Wall Street provided very little direction for Asian traders.
New data from the United States showed inflation was flat and that national industrial production grew 0.6 percent month on month in July, mainly driven by the auto sector.
Manufacturing in the New York area posted a surprise drop, however.
The National Association of Homebuilders’ activity index rose by two points to 37 — still low, but the highest level since early 2007, indicating greater optimism among companies that build housing.
The Dow edged down 0.06 percent while the S&P 500 added 0.11 percent and the tech-rich Nasdaq gained a more substantial 0.34 percent.
Oil prices turned lower after big gains in the United States. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for September, was down nine cents to $94.24 a barrel in the late afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for September dropped five cents to $116.20.
Gold was at $1,604.00 at 1030 GMT, compared to $1,594.67 on Wednesday.
In other markets:
– Singapore was flat, edging up 0.78 points to 3,062.89.
United Overseas Bank climbed 0.20 percent to Sg$20.20 and Singapore Airlines inched up 0.09 percent to Sg$10.94.
– Taipei rose 0.30 percent, or 22.47 points, to 7,490.21. Leading smartphone maker HTC added 2.67 percent to end at Tw$250.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.12 percent lower at Tw$82.9.
– Manila fell 0.90 percent, or 47.15 points, to 5,219.51.
Metropolitan Bank and Trust slid 2.69 percent to 92.30 pesos, Ayala Corp. dropped 0.89 percent to 421.20 pesos, while its flagship Ayala Land ended 2.39 percent lower at 22.45 pesos.
– Wellington slipped 0.41 percent, or 14.99 points, 3,616.20.
Fletcher Building closed down 0.92 percent at NZ$6.53 and Telecom was off 2.82 percent at NZ$2.76.
– Jakarta rose 0.45 percent, or 18.52 points, to 4,160.51.
Telkom rose 6.0 percent to 9,800 rupiah, Bank Rakyat increased 0.7 percent to 7,150 rupiah and mining company Aneka Tambang jumped 1.65 percent to 1,230 rupiah.
– Kuala Lumpur fell 0.22 percent, or 3.69 points, to 1,650.09.
– Bangkok dipped 0.20 percent, or 2.43 points, to 1,224.40.
Banpu dropped 3 percent to 452 baht, while SCC lost 1.45 percent to 339 baht.
– India’s Sensex index fell 0.40 percent or 70.99 points to 17,657.21.
Private aluminium producer Hindalco fell 2.62 percent to 117 rupees while the largest private bank ICICI Bank slid 1.3 percent to 956.5.
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