Most Asia markets up as Hong Kong rebounds

 22 Feb 2017 - 10:53

Most Asia markets up as Hong Kong rebounds

AFP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong led most Asia markets higher Wednesday after the previous day's HSBC-fuelled plunge, but Tokyo struggled with a stronger yen.

Regional traders woke up to the now-common sight of a record close on Wall Street as the US returned from the Presidents' Day holiday to higher oil prices and healthy eurozone economic data.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong -- which is at levels not seen since summer 2015 -- suffered a meltdown Tuesday after HSBC announced a slump in profits last year and warned of uncertainty from Brexit and Donald Trump. The banking giant fell five percent.

However, the bourse snapped back 0.8 percent Wednesday despite another dip in HSBC.

Elsewhere Shanghai, Sydney and Seoul each put on 0.2 percent, while Singapore, Taipei and Manila were also up.

Tokyo closed marginally lower as exporters were weighed by the strong yen, although it recovered from a morning sell-off.

However, Toshiba soared more than 22 percent on expectations for a planned sale of a stake in its microchip business, and after it sold its medical finance unit to Canon. Despite the surge, the company's shares are still worth only half of what they were in December owing to concerns about massive losses in its US nuclear arm.

The greenback retreated in Asia after rallying Tuesday in response to a top Federal Reserve official saying a March interest rate hike was still a possibility. Fed chief Janet Yellen last week hinted an increase next month was not off the table.

However, the surge fizzled Wednesday as investors look ahead to the release of minutes from the central bank's most recent policy meeting to gauge its views on the US economy and plans for lifting borrowing costs.

"These markets are very fickle, as last week the dollar could not hold a bid after Yellen's hawkish comments as well as the stellar US economic data," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, in a note.

"Yet it turns on a dime after the Fed's Philadelphia President Patrick Harker mentioned that a March rate hike was still on the table. It is all a bit bewildering, but nonetheless a sign that the market is desperately searching for an opinion, while lacking any serious conviction."

- Key figures around 0700 GMT - 

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 19,379.87 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 24,157.90

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,261.22 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0525 from $1.0535

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2490 from $1.2477

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.55 yen from 113.69 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 18 cents at $54.51 per barrel 

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 23 cents at $56.89 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 20,743.00 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,274.83 (close)