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Stock markets across Asia were lower after a flat session for Wall Street where a cautious mood still prevailed.

Markets were rattled earlier this week, prompting a flight to haven assets like bonds, amid concerns about the political outlook in Europe and further details of US President Donald Trump’s economic policies.

Europe is back on the radar, with growing concerns Marine Le Pen, the anti-euro, far-right leader, could claim victory in France’s presidential elections this spring. The spread between French and German 10-year bond yields has risen to its highest level in four years.

The euro was 0.1 per cent stronger today at $1.0689 in Asia today, but had fallen by almost a combined 1 per cent over the first two sessions this week.

Japan’s broad Topix was down 0.1 per cent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.5 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.4 per cent while the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite shed one-third of 1 per cent.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 crept fractionally higher in an otherwise lacklustre session, and is sitting about 5 points shy of January’s record high.

The US dollar index on Tuesday closed above the 100 mark for the first time in a week, and was sitting 0.1 per cent firmer in Asia today at 100.36.

The yen is 0.2 per cent stronger on Wednesday at ¥112.19 per dollar.

China’s renminbi was flat at Rmb6.8873 per dollar, having fallen one-third of 1 per cent on Tuesday as data showed the country’s foreign exchange reserves dipped below $3tn, if only slightly, for the first time since February 2011.

Oil prices hit the skids, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, down 0.9 per cent at $54.55 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate down 1.3 per cent at $51.52. Gold edged 0.1 per cent higher to $1,234.64 an ounce.

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