Asian stocks recover as haven demand unwinds

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Stock markets around Asia were clawing back losses from Friday when a US missile strike on a target in Syria prompted a flight to haven assets.

Gains for US Treasury prices, the Japanese yen and gold continued to unravel in Asia today, after news of the US missile strike triggered in markets a rush for safety that pushed prices for those assets to their strongest intraday levels in months on Friday.

Those moves had already started to unwind by the start of European trading last week and even a weak-looking US jobs report couldn’t convince investors to return to safer assets.

Non-farm payrolls data showed 98,000 jobs were created in March, a little more than half of what economists forecast. Analysts were upbeat, saying the low number was prompted by bad weather.

The yield,which moves inversely to price, on the 10-year US Treasury was up 0.7 basis points on Monday at 2.3894 per cent, putting bonds on course for their first three-day loss in a month. On Friday, the S&P 500 closed 0.1 per cent weaker.

Japanese shares, particularly exporters, benefited from a decline in the yen. The Topix index was up 0.7 per cent, with iron and steel stocks the best performers.

Similarly in Australia, where the S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.5 per cent, commodity stocks were doing well. Among the best performers were Whitehaven Coal and South32, which are benefiting from a spike in coking coal prices after a cyclone hit the north-eastern coast of Queensland and disrupted supplies of the steel-making ingredient.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat, while China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.3 per cent from a four-month high.

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