Japan up but Asia shares struggle in thin holiday trade
AFP – Japanese shares powered to new highs on Monday but other Asian equity markets struggled as holidays in key hubs resulted in a subdued start to the trading week.
Japan’s Nikkei index powered from strength to strength, climbing again above a 27-year-high that it narrowly failed to take out at the end of last week.
Investors shrugged off a disappointing business confidence survey and a fierce typhoon that raked the entire country, pushing the main Nikkei 225 index up 0.54 percent to 24,250.88 points.
Traders were encouraged by a weaker yen against the dollar, which is usually positive for Japan’s export-driven economy. The greenback rose to 113.89 yen in early trade, from 113.67 yen late Friday in New York.
A powerful typhoon that impacted the entire country caused less damage than feared, which also boosted investor sentiment.
However, analysts warned that traders could be looking to take some cash off the table following healthy gains in recent days.
"While the market maintained its strong momentum, it would be no surprise to see investors cash in on the recent gains at any time," Hikaru Sato, senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities, told AFP.
Elsewhere in the region, South Korea’s Kospi index was off 0.2 percent and Australian equities were lower by 0.5 percent in thin trade due to a public holiday.
Markets in China and Hong Kong were closed for a public holiday.
Data released on Sunday showed that Chinese factory activity slowed in September, as the Asian giant’s trade war with the United States showed no sign of abating.
Stock markets in the region appeared little moved by news that the US and Canada had reached a trade deal, according to the Canadian media.
However the Canadian dollar jumped on the rumours a deal had been reached. At around 11am in Tokyo (0200 GMT), the loonie was up 0.7 percent from its Friday close at $1.2814.
In other markets, oil continued to climb as fears that US-Iran tensions and instability in the Middle East could push prices towards the $100 per barrel mark.
Both Brent Crude and the WTI index moved higher by around a quarter of one percentage point.
Foreign exchange markets were relatively calm, a climb in the dollar’s value against the yen providing a boost to Japanese exporters.
The pound was down against the dollar as British Prime Minister Theresa May gathered her ruling Conservative Party in the central city of Birmingham facing an open revolt by former colleague Boris Johnson over her plans for Brexit.
– Key figures around 0230 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 24,250.88
Hong Kong (closed) – Hang Seng at 27,788.52
Shanghai (closed) – Composite at 2,821.35
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.16 from $1.1591 on Friday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3034 from $1.3053 on Friday
Dollar/yen: UP at 113.94 yen from 113.39 on Friday
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 19 cents at $73.44 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 25 cents at $82.98 per barrel
New York – Dow Jones: Close at 26,458.31
London – FTSE 100: Close at 7,510.20