Dec 04, 2017 08:37 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Asia trades lower, but Dow futures spike more than 200 points after Senate passes tax plan

Dow Jones industrial average futures, meanwhile, rose 212 points to 24,450 at 9:43 a.m. HK/SIN.


Asia markets traded most lower on Monday morning, following a decline in US stocks on Friday after a shock from a since-corrected report about the investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia.

Dow Jones industrial average futures, meanwhile, rose 212 points to 24,450 at 9:43 a.m. HK/SIN.

In Australia, the ASX 200 was down 0.18 percent as the heavily-weighted financial subindex fell 0.88 percent. The country's so-called Big Four banks saw losses in the morning session.

Shares of ANZ were down 0.98 percent, Commonwealth Bank declined 0.83 percent, Westpac fell by 1.55 percent and the National Australia Bank was lower by 0.78 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.27 percent in morning trade while the Topix index traded down 0.1 percent. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi stood out and traded up 0.13 percent.

Chinese mainland markets were also lower in early trade. The Shanghai composite fell 0.28 percent and the Shenzhen composite was down 0.23 percent.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index declined 0.3 percent.

ABC News reported on Friday that Michael Flynn, the former White House national security advisor, would testify that he was directed to make contact with Russians during the presidential campaign in 2016. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his post-election contacts with Russia's ambassador to the US.

That report hit the markets hard, but ABC later corrected the story to say its source had clarified that Trump gave Flynn the directive "shortly after the election" to discuss strategies for fighting the Islamic State extremist group.

The news "provides a reminder of the cloud hanging over the Trump administration," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, wrote in a weekend note. He added that could cause "bouts of volatility next year and just adds to the likelihood that the GOP will lose control of the House in the November 2018 mid-term elections."

"However, we remain of the view that it does not change prospects for tax reform (it's already nearly there) and in fact just highlights the pressure on Congress to get it done," Oliver noted.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Senate Republicans narrowly passed a bill to overhaul the US tax system. The GOP still needs to overcome significant disagreements for the House and Senate to craft a joint bill and send it to Trump's desk. Republicans hope to reach a deal by Christmas.

While the tax bill narrowly passing may have been a "political relief" for the Trump administration, it does not "eradicate fiscal uncertainty," according to Vishnu Varathan from Mizuho Bank.

"Fact is, a possible US government shutdown looms heading into 8th Dec and, in all likelihood, the backstop to avert a shutdown may be by the skin of the teeth as well," he wrote in a Monday morning note. "And this could keep long-end yield upside in check if caution trumps exuberance."

In the currency market, the dollar rose from an overnight low of 92.881 to trade at 93.086 against a basket of currencies at 9:50 a.m. HK/SIN.

Among other currency majors, the Japanese yen fetched 112.67 to the dollar, weakening from an earlier low of 112.39. Despite the relative weakness in the yen, major exporters remained under pressure: Toyota was down 0.26 percent, Sony reversed early losses to trade up 0.64 percent and Mitsubishi Electric was down 0.54 percent. Nissan shares rose 0.32 percent.

Typically, a weaker yen is a positive for Japanese exporters since it increases their overseas revenue when converted back into local currency.

The Australian dollar weakened against the greenback to trade at USD 0.7603 from a previous high of USD 0.7613, and the euro was at USD 1.1874.

Elsewhere, oil prices were also lower. US crude was down 0.74 percent at USD 57.93 and global benchmark Brent fell 0.61 percent at USD 63.34 a barrel.
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