Asian shares mixed, dollar rallies after Wall St surge

September 25, 2014

Asian markets were mixed Thursday, with many indexes reversing early gains as initial cheer from a Wall Street rally was replaced by concerns US interest rates could rise sooner than expected.

Another batch of strong data out of Washington also lit a fire under the dollar, which resumed its surge towards 110 yen while the euro struggled after a disappointing survey of business confidence in Germany.

Tokyo jumped 1.28 percent, or 206.69 points, at a new seven-year high of 16,374.14 as the yen tumbled, while Sydney added 0.12 percent, or 6.44 points, to close at 5,382.2, and Shanghai ended slightly higher, edging up 1.53 points to 2,345.10.

However, Seoul ended marginally lower, dipping 1.53 points to 2,034.11 and in the afternoon Hong Kong shed 0.58 percent.

Markets got off to a flier after a surge on Wall Street as the US Commerce Department said sales of new single-family houses rose 18 percent in August to an annual rate of 504,000, their fastest pace since May 2008.

The Dow jumped 0.90 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.78 percent and the Nasdaq rallied 1.03 percent.

However, the morning euphoria wore off for some investors as they bet the latest results will provide the US Federal Reserve more reason to hike interest rates before its expected mid-2015 estimate.

The US central bank has kept a wait-and-see approach to monetary policy as the economy gathers momentum but with rates likely to rise next year emerging markets are worried investors will withdraw their cash to seek better returns at home.

In foreign exchange trade the dollar also jumped Wednesday in New York to 109.04 yen from 108.57 yen earlier in the day in Asia.

And on Thursday in Tokyo it rose further to 109.27 yen.

Daisuke Uno, strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, told Dow Jones Newswires: “It’s probably fair to say that US employment data (on October 3) hold the key to more dollar strength, since a US economic rebound is the biggest fundamental reason to buy dollars.”

The greenback also made more inroads against the euro after Germany’s Ifo survey of business confidence hit a 17-month low in September.

The euro bought $1.2740 Thursday, down from $1.2781 in US trade, where it fell through the 1.28 mark for the first time since July 2013. The common currency also bought 139.17 yen, compared with 139.37 yen Wednesday.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery fell 12 cents to $92.68 while Brent crude for November eased 20 cents to $96.75 in afternoon trade.

Gold was at $1,207.89 an ounce against $1,220.98 an ounce late Wednesday.

In other markets:

– Taipei fell 0.96 percent, or 86.90 points, to 9,011.59.

Smartphone maker HTC shed 2.25 percent to Tw$130.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dipped 0.81 percent to Tw$122.0.

– Wellington rose 0.37 percent, or 19.69 points, to 5,277.86.

Spark was up 0.67 percent at NZ$2.99 and Warehouse Group added 0.32 percent to NZ$3.10.

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