Asian shares mostly lower, dollar rallies

September 10, 2014

Asian markets were mostly lower Wednesday following a fall on Wall Street, with shares of Apple’s suppliers mixed as investors were left unimpressed with the US giant’s latest iPhones and watch.

The dollar resumed its uptrend against the yen, hitting a fresh six-year high, while the pound edged up but was still struggling on fears Scotland will vote to leave the United Kingdom.

Tokyo ended 0.25 percent higher, adding 39.63 points to 15,788.78 and reversing morning losses thanks to the yen weakness.

However, Sydney lost 0.60 percent, or 33.6 points, to end at 5,574.3, while Shanghai shed 0.35 percent, or 8.22 points, to 2,318.31. Hong Kong sank 1.93 percent, or 485.09 points to 24,705.36 on concerns about China’s economy.

Seoul was closed for a public holiday.

With few regional catalysts, investors took their lead from Wall Street, where an initial rally following Apple’s launch petered out after the Federal Reserve signalled stricter capital requirements for banks.

A top official at the central bank said the largest lenders with high dependence on short-term funding would face tougher rules to ensure they did not put the financial system at risk.

The Dow gave up 0.57 percent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.65 percent Tuesday, while the Nasdaq fell 0.87 percent.

On currency markets the greenback shrugged off an early sell-off to rally to 106.64 yen, its highest since September 2008 during the financial crisis and well up from the 106.20 yen late in New York.

The dollar was supported by Japanese importers purchasing the unit while the US Federal Reserve cuts back on its stimulus programme and expectations increase that it will raise interest rates sooner than later.

- Apple fails to excite -

The euro bought 137.80 yen and $1.2928 Wednesday against 137.39 yen and $1.2938 in US trade. On Tuesday in Japan the single currency was sitting at 136.89 yen and a 14-month low of $1.2872.

The pound edged up slightly against the dollar but was still under pressure with next week’s referendum on Scottish independence too close to call, raising fears the country could break away from the United Kingdom.

In the afternoon it bought $1.6130, up from $1.6105 in the US and sharply up from the 10-month-low of $1.6084 in Asia Tuesday. However, it is still a long way off Friday’s $1.6323.

Shares in firms that supply Apple saw a mixed response after the US giant launched two new iPhones with bigger screens, a long-awaited watch and a new payments system.

However, while Apple CEO Tim Cook said the new handsets represented “the biggest advancement in the history of iPhones”, investors were less effusive. The tech giant’s shares fell 0.4 percent in US trade.

In Tokyo Japan Display slipped 1.8 percent and Foster Electric edged up 0.5 percent, while in Taipei Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. dipped 1.6 percent, Hon Hai eased 1.0 percent and display maker Largan Precision added 0.2 percent.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in the United States, said investors appeared to be disappointed.

“Investors have come to expect game-changers from this company and anything short of that is a disappointment,” he said.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October lost five cents to $92.70 while Brent crude for October shed 26 cents to $98.90.

Gold was at $1,255.70 an ounce, against $1,253.52 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

– Wellington slipped 0.13 percent, or 7.04 points, to 5,236.66.

Fletcher Building was down 1.19 percent at NZ$9.15 but Air New Zealand added 0.24 percent to NZ$2.06.

– Taipei fell 0.82 percent, or 77.16 points, to 9,357.61.

– Manila shed 0.56 percent, or 40.89 points, to 7,212.78.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone dropped 0.76 percent to 3,378 pesos and Nickel Asia Corp. fell 4.23 percent to 44.15 pesos, while Puregold Price Club sank 2.87 percent to 32.20 pesos.

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