Most Asia markets up but dollar hit by uncertainty

Hong Kong (AFP) – Most Asian markets rose Tuesday following the previous day’s retreat, but the dollar was hit by fresh uncertainty over Donald Trump’s economic policy and contradictory views on future rate hikes by two top Federal Reserve officials.

Global stocks started the week with a wobble after G20 finance chiefs failed to renew a longstanding anti-protectionist pledge in the face of Trump’s “America First” push, fuelling fears about the international trade system.

But investors returned to buying in early Asian business, with Hong Kong up 0.3 percent, building on a three-day rally that has pushed it to levels not seen since the summer of 2015.

Sydney and Shanghai were flat, while Seoul jumped more than one percent and Singapore put on 0.1 percent. Taipei, Wellington and Manila were all higher.

But Tokyo ended the morning 0.3 percent lower as traders returned from a long weekend to find the yen had strengthened significantly against the dollar.

The greenback was struggling around the mid-112 zone, down from New York and well off the 113.33 yen mark seen when the Nikkei was last open Friday.

The dollar has come in for heavy selling since the Federal Reserve on Wednesday lifted borrowing costs but pointed to another two rises this year, confounding talk of a possible three or four.

On Monday Chicago Fed President Charles Evans suggested there could be more hikes this year but Minneapolis boss Neel Kashkari said the policy board should take its time.

The uncertainty surrounding US policy comes as investors are left waiting for some detail from Trump on his promise to ramp up infrastructure spending and slash taxes to fire up the economy.

World markets surged since his November election on expectations he would push the plans through but his lack of anything substantial has spooked some.

Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note: “Post (Fed decision) the markets’ attention has turned again to the Trump administration’s lack of concrete policy announcements. With the new administration’s 100 days of action rapidly turning into 100 days of inaction, extended dollar reflationist long positioning has started heading for the door.”

The dollar was also struggling against most other high-yielding units, with the South Korean won up 0.3 percent and the Mexican peso 0.7 percent higher. 

 – Key figures around 0230 GMT – 

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 19,469.62 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 24,586.66

Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 3,250.25

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0772 from $1.0746

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2380 from $1.2392

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.50 from 112.71 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 15 cents at $48.37 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 22 cents at $51.84 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 20,905.86 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,429.81 (close)


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