Wall Street highs fail to lift Asian stocks

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Banking and commodity stocks led a sell-off in Asia on Monday, failing to latch on to another set of record highs for Wall Street’s main equities gauges.

A late rally pushed the S&P 500 0.2 per cent higher on Friday, while the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Averaged gained 0.1 per cent. The Dow has now closed at a record high for 11 sessions in a row.

That was despite an overall cautious mood in markets as investors grapple with a lack of clarity regarding the Trump administration’s economic policies that have prompted the rally since Donald Trump’s election victory to stall.

The dollar index was flat on Monday at 101.07, while the yield on 10-year US Treasuries, which moves inversely to price, was up 0.5 per cent to 2.3241 per cent after three-straight days of declines.

Weighed down by weakness in the heavyweight mining and banking sectors, Japan’s Topix was down 1.2 per cent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.2 per cent, with energy stocks among the worst performers. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.1 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.3 per cent.

The Australian dollar was outperforming in Asia, up 0.1 per cent to $0.7686 after data showed company profits rose in the December quarter by the most since 2001.
Japan’s yen was fractionally stronger at ¥112.1, but enough to put it on track for a four-session winning streak.

Oil prices were recovering in Asia after a drop of more than 1 per cent on Friday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.2 per cent at $56.08 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate gained 0.1 per cent to $54.04.

Gold was fractionally lower at $1,256.97 an ounce following three straight days of gains that on Friday saw the yellow metal close at its highest level since the aftermath of Mr Trump’s election victory in November.

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