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Asia stocks advance; dollar, oil recover from multi-month lows

Japan's Nikkei gained 0.25 percent, thanks to a weaker yen.

March 23, 2017 / 07:33 AM IST

Asian stocks rose on Thursday, taking their cues from a Wall Street bounce, while the dollar crawled up from a four-month low but remains clouded by concerns about US President Donald Trump's pro-growth policies.

Sterling was about 0.1 percent lower at USD 1.247 in early trade but had fallen as much as 0.4 percent on Wednesday, after an attack close to Britain's Parliament killed five people, including the attacker and a police officer, and injured 40. Police said they believed the attacker was inspired by Islamist-related terrorism.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.1 percent.

Japan's Nikkei gained 0.25 percent, thanks to a weaker yen.

Overnight, the Nasdaq jumped 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 closed higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, after all three touched their lowest levels in about five weeks earlier in the session.


"Investors with a lot of cash used yesterday's downturn and the morning’s weakness today as a buying opportunity," said Alan Lancz, president of investment advisory firm Alan B. Lancz & Associates in Toledo, Ohio. He said, however, that US stocks could slip again if Trump's healthcare bill fails to progress.

The dollar advanced 0.15 percent to 111.32 yen in early trade, after dropping to 110.71, its lowest since Nov. 22 overnight.

The dollar index also recovered about 0.1 percent to 99.77, after touching a seven-week low overnight.

Trump has been trying to rally support for his plan to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare legislation. Republican leaders of the House of Representatives plan a vote on the bill, Trump's first major legislation since he took office, later on Thursday.

"Failure to push ahead with this legislation will be seen as a defeat for Trump and the market may react negatively in the short-term; however this should be seen as a buying opportunity," James Woods, global investment analyst at Rivkin Securities in Sydney, wrote in a note.

Investors in Asia are awaiting a rate decision from Taiwan's central bank, which is expected to remain on hold.

The central bank is asking some custodian banks to advise their clients not to remit new funds, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The US dollar was up 0.15 percent at 30.503 Taiwan dollars.

The New Zealand dollar was 0.1 percent lower after the central bank held interest rates at a record low 1.75 percent, and reiterated it would remain there for a "considerable" period of time, citing global volatility and US protectionism.

In commodities markets, oil prices inched higher having touched their lowest level since November overnight, after data showed US inventories, already at a record high, grew by far more than forecast.

US crude gained 0.4 percent to USD 48.26 a barrel in early trade on Thursday.

The dollar's recovery weighed on gold, which retreated 0.2 percent to USD 1,246.20 after hitting a three-week high overnight.
first published: Mar 23, 2017 07:33 am

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