Asian stocks mixed, dollar and currencies flat
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Stock markets across Asia were mixed on Monday while currencies were sliding as the dollar traded flat.
The S&P 500 climbed 0.2 per cent on Friday to a record high, capping off a week in which the FTSE All World index rose to a record, surpassing its previous peak from May 2015. US economic data last week generally came in better than expected, boosting spirits.
The US market is closed on Monday for the President’s Day public holiday.
Trading in the British pound may come into focus later today as the House of Lords starts debating – and is likely to attach conditions to – the legislation giving Theresa May, UK prime minister, the power to trigger the country’s exit from the EU. The pound was flat at $1.2414, but had been as much as 0.3 per cent higher in Asian trade.
Japan’s Topix benchmark was down 0.2 per cent. SoftBank was up as much as 3.3 per cent in the wake of reports on Friday the Japanese telco, which is the majority owner of US wireless carrier Sprint, might approach T-Mobile US about a possible merger.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.4 per cent as investors expressed their displeasure with disappointing results from major companies such as Brambles and WorleyParsons.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.6 per cent, while China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.3 per cent and the tech-focused Shenzhen Composite added 0.2 per cent.
The US dollar index was fractionally lower at 100.92 on Monday. The index, which tracks the value of the greenback against a basket of global currencies, jumped on Friday by the most in a month as Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve chair, warned it might be “unwise” if the central bank waited too long before raising interest rates again.
The yen was 0.2 per cent weaker today at ¥113.09 per dollar, weighed down by data earlier in the morning that showed exports grew less than forecast in January. The Australian dollar was flat.
Commodity prices were softer across the board, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, down 0.1 per cent at $55.73 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate was off 0.1 per cent at $53.37.
Gold was down 0.1 per cent at $1,233.67 an ounce.