Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Asia pares weekly gains, Japan slips on strong yen

Bloomberg and Reuters

Asian stocks pared the week’s gains, with a benchmark measure retreating from its highest close in 19 months as investors mirrored selling by US peers ahead of a three-day weekend in the US for Presidents’ Day tomorrow.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index on Friday lost 0.3 percent to 144.93 as of 5:20pm Hong Kong time, led by consumer discretionary and phone stocks. Eight of 11 groups in the index dropped. The index is up 0.7 percent from last week’s 143.88.

Shares in Taiwan yesterday closed slightly higher on a technical rebound, but the upturn was limited ahead of the nearest technical resistance level at 9,800 points, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange ended up 20.16 points, or 0.21 percent, at 9,779.92. The index gained 1.2 percent from last week’s 9,665.59 points.

Shares in Tokyo declined for a second day on Friday as the yen strengthened, with automakers and technology companies the biggest drags on the TOPIX.

“We’re probably seeing some exhaustion as the markets have had a very strong go. We saw a bit of profit-taking in the US overnight as there are no strong positive leads to move the market higher,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at Sydney-based AMP Capital Investors Ltd.

On Wednesday, odds for a US rate hike next month slid to 36 percent from 42 percent, triggering a step back in the S&P 500 Index from a record close reached on optimism the US economy can withstand higher interest rates.

A batch of positive economic data out of Asia this week, driven by improving exports and rising commodity prices, has bolstered shares, although concerns linger that any protectionist threats posed by US President Donald Trump could reverse the recovery.

On Friday, Singapore revised its fourth-quarter GDP growth sharply higher. Earlier in the week, Taiwan raised its annual economic growth target to a three-year high, Indonesia’s exports last month rose at the fastest pace in more than five years and China’s inflation last month picked up by more than expected to near six-year-highs.

Japan’s Nikkei closed 0.6 percent lower, down 0.7 percent for the week. Australian shares fell 0.2 percent at the close, shrinking the week’s gains to 1.5 percent.

Chinese shares slipped after earlier touching a near two-month-high after the securities regulator said that starting Friday, it will relax certain rules on stock index futures trading as restrictions imposed during the 2015 stock market crash are unwound.

The CSI 300 index lost 0.4 percent after gaining as much as 0.5 percent, posting a weekly advance of the same magnitude.

Hong Kong shares dropped 0.7 percent, but still closed up 1.6 percent for the week.

Additional reporting by CNA

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