Moneycontrol
Apr 13, 2017 07:41 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Asian equities mostly lower; Nikkei falls 1%, dollar lower

Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.16 percent on the back of the stronger yen. The ASX 200 was lower by 0.73 percent, driven mainly by in its materials and energy sub-indexes, which sank 2.54 percent and 1.68 percent respectively.

Asian equities mostly lower; Nikkei falls 1%, dollar lower

Asian equities were mostly lower in Thursday trade, following comments made by US President Donald Trump that the dollar was too strong.

The dollar tanked after Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that it was getting "too strong." He also said the reason for the strong dollar was "partially" his fault as "people have confidence in (him)."

In response, the dollar index dropped to its lowest level since March 30. It last traded against a basket of currencies at 100.11, continuing a third straight session of declines.

The greenback also traded lower against other Asian currencies. Dollar/yen traded at 108.82, falling further from levels around 109.6 from the previous session. The Aussie traded at USD 0.7534, gaining from the USD 0.74 handle seen in the last session at 9:25 am HK/SIN.

"With political tensions remaining high and Trump's call for a lower dollar, traders are more likely to take notice of bad news over good to keep pressure on the dollar and support the yen," said ThinkMarkets' senior market analyst Matt Simpson in a note.

Safe-haven assets like gold and bonds continued to be in high demand. The yellow metal eased slightly from the 5-month highs set yesterday, with spot gold trading at USD 1,286.76 an ounce. US ten-year Treasury yields traded at 2.2285 percent.

Trump also said that he would ultimately not label China a currency manipulator despite promising to do so while campaigning for the presidency last year.

Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1.16 percent on the back of the stronger yen. The ASX 200 was lower by 0.73 percent, driven mainly by in its materials and energy sub-indexes, which sank 2.54 percent and 1.68 percent respectively.

The South Korean benchmark Kospi index was marginally higher, trading 0.09 percent higher.

Mainland Chinese markets were lower across the board. The Shanghai Composite was down 0.25 percent, while the Shenzhen Composite inched down by 0.053 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was dropped 0.4 percent.

In corporate news, Western Digital warned that troubled Japanese conglomerate Toshiba will breach a joint venture contract if it sells its memory chip unit. Toshiba is looking to spin off its memory business in order to cover billions in losses incurred by its U.S. nuclear arm, Westinghouse. Toshiba shares were lower by 1.99 percent.

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific announced several changes in top management, with Chief Operating Officer Rupert Hogg due to replace current Chief Executive Ivan Chu on May 1. The company said in a press release that Chu would be taking on the role of chairman at John Swire & Sons to focus on opportunities in mainland China.

The airline posted losses in March, the first time the company has reported annual losses since the 2008 financial crisis.

On the energy front, oil futures dropped after Energy Information Administration (EIA) data reflected that US production continued to rise. Brent crude was lower by 0.32 percent to trade at USD 55.86 a barrel while US crude was down by 0.4 percent to trade at USD 52.90. Oil futures had hit a one-month high in the session before.

In economic news, Singapore's trade-reliant economy shrank 1.9 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months on an annualized basis, weighed by contractions in manufacturing and services, preliminary data showed on Thursday.

Separately, Singapore's central bank left monetary policy steady on Thursday in a widely expected decision.

In Australia, March employment data was better than expected, reflecting 60,900 jobs added compared to forecasts of 20,000 new jobs.

China March trade data is expected later in the morning.

Stateside, US equities were lower across the board. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.29 percent or 56.44 points to close at 20,591.86, the S&P 500 fell 0.38 percent or 8.85 to end at 2,344.93 and the Nasdaq dropped 0.52 percent or 30.61 points to finish at 5,836.16.

US markets are waiting on earnings announcements from several major US financials, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The banks are expected to report results on Thursday ET.
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