Asia markets, dollar, up despite North Korea fears
A pedestrian walks past a stock quotation board flashing the Nikkei 225 key index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in front of a securities company in Tokyo. (Photo: AFP/Toru Yamanaka)
HONG KONG: Most Asian markets edged up on Wednesday (Sep 27) and the dollar extended gains against its peers on expectations of further interest rate rises, while traders await the release of Donald Trump's tax reform plan.While shares were broadly in positive territory, US-North Korea tensions continue to jangle nerves and keep investors from buying with any conviction.Hong Kong added 0.5 percent, while Shanghai edged up 0.1 per cent and Singapore gained 0.8 per cent. But Seoul and Sydney each lost 0.1 per cent, while Tokyo finished 0.3 per cent lower.There were also gains in Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Bangkok.In early European trade London rose 0.4 per cent, while Paris and Frankfurt were each 0.2 per cent higher.The yen - which surged Tuesday on safe-haven buying after Pyongyang accused Trump of declaring war on it and said it may shoot down US bombers - was being pegged back by the dollar in Tokyo.
The greenback returned to favour after Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen indicated the bank would press on with its plan to raise borrowing costs, saying the US economy was strong enough to withstand it.Analysts said her comments suggested she did not want to take too long to raise rates and end up having to introduce sharper increases down the line - which could risk a recession."In lay terms: 'we just can't wait till we see the whites of inflation's eyes, that would be too late'," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.The dollar rose well above ¥112 in New York Tuesday, having sat around the ¥111.50 level earlier in the day.
And in Asia the US unit extended its gains towards ¥113 ahead of the long-awaited release of details on Trump's tax plan, which he said would cut the burden "not just a little bit, but tremendously" for the middle class.His market-friendly promise to cut taxes, ramp up infrastructure spending and slash red tape helped drive a global rally after his November election but a series of crises and setbacks in Congress have thrown his agenda off track.The greenback was also up against the euro, which has taken a hit this week from traders worried about the difficulties German Chancellor Angela Merkel will have putting together a coalition in Europe's biggest economy, and the implications for the eurozone.Merkel won a fourth term Sunday but a hard-right opposition party entered parliament for the first time.The single currency was around US$1.1750, a one-month low, having been above the US$1.20 mark on Friday.- Key figures around 0820 GMT -Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 per cent at 20,267.05 (close)Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 per cent at 27,642.43 (close)Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 per cent at 3,345.27 (close)London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 per cent at 7,313.58Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1750 from US$1.1790 at 2040 GMTDollar/yen: UP at ¥112.72 from ¥112.25Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3397 from US$1.3456Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 37 cents at US$52.25 per barrelOil - Brent North Sea: UP 36 cents at US$58.80 per barrelNew York - DOW: DOWN 0.1 per cent at 22,284.32 (close)