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US government bonds hit a five-week high ahead of key economic data due later this week, while sentiment on South Africa’s rand soured further after S&P downgraded the country’s credit rating.
The yield, which moves inversely to price, on 10-year US Treasuries dipped to a five-week low of 2.3212 per cent in the Asian morning, but had since recovered to be 1 basis point higher at 2.3265 per cent. Yields fell 7bp on Monday.
Investors are turning their attention to the minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s March meeting, where it raised interest rates, are released on Wednesday, as well as highly-anticipated non-farm payrolls figures that are released on Friday.
Australian government bonds enjoyed a fillip ahead of Tuesday’s interest rates decision from the Reserve Bank of Australia. Economists widely expect the central bank to hold its cash rate target at 1.5 per cent.
Yield on Australia’s 10-year government bonds was down 7 basis points at 2.6 per cent, the lowest level since November 17.
The Topix index was off 0.4 per cent. Tokyo-listed shares in Toshiba dropped as much as 10.3 per cent on reports the troubled conglomerate could require further financial aid. Shares had ended Monday 5.5 per cent lower on reports the company would likely miss another deadline for its quarterly earnings.
In Sydney the S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.2 per cent, with materials companies among the top gainers. Sentiment was also given a boost after Australia posted its second-highest nominal trade surplus on record for February, which was bolstered by the continued recovery in commodity prices.
Markets in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan were closed for a holiday.
The dollar was down slightly in Asian trading, with the dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of peers off 0.1 per cent as a stronger yen offset gains against a variety of less prominent currencies.
The yen briefly strengthened past ¥110.5 per dollar in the morning session before pulling back to ¥110.7.
Worst off was South Africa’s rand, which tacked on another 0.4 per cent drop to 13.7413 per dollar, taking it 5.4 per cent weaker since President Jacob Zuma fired his finance minister and eight other ministers on Thursday evening. The rand closed Monday down 2 per cent after S&P cut the country’s credit rating.
South Korea’s won was 0.3 per cent weaker at Won1,118.18.
Oil prices were steady in Asia trading after a drop late in the Monday session. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.1 per cent at $54.15 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, was up by the same amount at $50.27.
Gold was up 0.2 per cent at $1,255.92 per ounce.