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Asian stock markets continued to recover after a mid-week sell-off and as a highly anticipated vote on US healthcare reform was pushed back till later on Friday.
Global markets are in recovery mode after a sharp mid-week tumble that handed a number of key equities benchmarks their worst one-day falls since the US presidential election, and in the case of the S&P 500, since October.
Divisions within the US Republican party over President Donald Trump’s plans to repeal Obamacare spurred concerns among investors Mr Trump might struggle to get his other pro-business policies passed.
The vote has now been delayed to later on Friday, with Mr Trump now issuing an ultimatum to House Republicans that they either pass the bill overhauling the nation’s healthcare system, or reject it and he will move on to the rest of his legislative agenda.
The S&P 500 closed 0.1 per cent lower on Thursday, but futures are now tipping the benchmark to open 0.3 per cent higher following the President’s ultimatum. The US dollar index is 0.2 per cent higher at 99.908, eyeing its first back-to-back daily gain in almost a fortnight.
Japan’s Topix was up 0.8 per cent with a strong showing from the banking sector, which might be expected to benefit if Mr Trump’s other plans to pare back financial regulation in the US succeed. Banks were also leading Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 0.9 per cent higher as a number of lenders announced increases in certain mortgage rates in response to higher funding costs.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.1 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.2 per cent.
The yen was 0.4 per cent weaker on Friday at ¥111.33 per dollar as a gauge of manufacturing activity fell to its lowest point this year. The Japanese currency on Thursday strengthened for an eighth straight day, the longest winning streak since early 2011.
The Australian dollar was down 0.1 per cent at $0.7623 and facing a four-day losing streak, its longest this year.
Also weak today was the British pound, down 0.3 per cent at $1.2485 and looking to end a three-day run.
Gold, which had performed solidly in the first part of this week as the US dollar sold off, was down 0.1 per cent at $1,243.81 a Troy ounce.
Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was up 0.1 per cent at $50.60 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate added 0.1 per cent to $47.76.