Market moves were largely muted in Asia morning trading on Monday as both stocks and regional currencies put in a mixed performance.
In Tokyo the broad Topix index was off by 0.2 per cent, led lower by falls in financial and utilities stocks. Shares in Nintendo bucked that trend, rising as much as 3.4 per cent following the company’s launch of its new Switch video game console last week. They had closed Friday up 3.7 per cent. The Nikkei 225 index was down 0.4 per cent.
In South Korea the Kospi index fell as much as 0.5 per cent on news North Korea had test-launched four missiles.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.3 per cent as casino stocks pushed higher following data last week that showed Macau casinos’ gambling revenue grew more than expected. Shares in Galaxy Entertainment were up 1.4 per cent, while those in Sands China rose 1.2 per cent. In China the tech-focused Shenzhen Composite index was up 0.4 per cent.
In Sydney shares in miners were rising despite new difficulties faced by the sector’s biggest players. Rio Tinto were up 2.2 per cent after it delayed bonuses to former chief executive Sam Walsh amid inquiries into a questionable payment made to a consultant. Shares in BHP Billiton were up 1.5 per cent as a strike at its copper mine in Chile, the world’s largest, passed the 25-day mark to become the longest since a strike at the same mine in 2006. The S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2 per cent
The Australian dollar led losses in the region, dropping 0.3 per cent against the dollar to $0.7574 in spite of data showing retail sales had returned to growth in January. The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of international peers was down only 0.1 per cent.
The yen strengthened 0.2 per cent against the dollar to ¥113.79, while South Korea’s won softened 0.3 per cent to Won1154.80 per dollar following reports of the test-launch in North Korea.
Sovereign bonds were gaining in the Asia Pacific region with the exception of Japan’s 10-year government notes, which remained flat.
The yield, which moves opposite to price, on 10-year US Treasuries was down 1 basis point at 2.295 per cent. That on the equivalent Australian notes was down 1bp as well at 2.796, while 10-year New Zealand government bonds saw yield drop 1bp to 3.284 per cent.
Oil prices were down in Asia trading, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, off 0.3 per cent at $55.75 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, was off by the same amount at $53.14.