Asia Stocks Gain Even as Topix Swings, Yen Rises
EghtesadOnline: Asian stocks rose even as Tokyo shares wrestled with a strengthening yen, as markets from Hong Kong to Singapore advanced after U.S. shares reached fresh records. The dollar fell against most major currencies while oil continued a rally.
Japan’s Topix index fluctuated as the yen increased, while Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong climbed back toward the highest levels since November 2015. Oil extended gains above $54 a barrel after OPEC’s top official said the group intends to achieve full compliance with a deal to trim production. The dollar slipped as Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said policy makers don’t want to surprise the market on interest rates.
Money managers are grappling with political uncertainty as the Fed prepares to lift interest rates again later this year. Expectations for an interest-rate increase at the Fed’s next policy meeting have been on the rise since Chair Janet Yellen indicated Feb. 14 that she foresees additional tightening this year regardless of whether President Donald Trump follows through on plans to pursue a pro-growth fiscal policy, Bloomberg reported.
Mester, in a Bloomberg Television interview from Singapore, reiterated comments made on Feb. 20 that she would be “comfortable” with higher rates in response to upticks in inflation, though she said the Fed was not yet “behind the curve” in addressing price pressures.
Here are some events that investors are watching out for:
- The Fed releases minutes Wednesday from its most recent meeting, possibly giving investors a look into how members see Donald Trump’s policies. Data should show the U.S. housing market perking up at the start of the year.
- It’s International Petroleum Week in London and top OPEC, government and company officials are attending.
Here are the main market moves:
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent as of 12:39 p.m. in Tokyo, after advancing 0.2 percent on Tuesday.
- The yen rose 0.2 percent to 113.44 per dollar. The South Korean won climbed 0.4 percent and the Australian dollar gained 0.2 percent.
- The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.4 percent to the highest since July 2015. The Topix was little changed, after swinging between gains of 0.3 percent and losses of as much as 0.2 percent.
- The Hang Seng Index jumped 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s economy may expand by 2 percent to 3 percent in 2017, faster than the 1.9 percent gain last year, Financial Secretary Paul Chan told lawmakers in the annual budget speech.
- The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index advanced 1.1 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex Index added 0.4 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index increased 0.4 percent.
- Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed. The index added 0.6 percent Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Russell 200 Index closing at all-time highs.
- Banking stocks in Europe fell 1 percent on Tuesday after HSBC missed earnings estimates and said it will boost cost-cutting measures and extend a stock buyback. The Stoxx Europe 600 index advanced 0.6 percent for a third straight gain that left it at the highest since December 2015.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose one basis point to 2.44 percent.
- Australian 10-year yields climbed three basis points to 2.83 percent.
- Oil rose 0.7 percent to $54.46 a barrel, adding to Tuesday’s 1.2 percent gain.
- Gold was little changed at $1,236.22, after alternating between gains and losses over the previous four sessions.