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Asian currencies were on the back foot as the US dollar climbed on Tuesday, while stocks were on track for a second straight day of gains.

European government bond markets remain a focal point for global investors after an opinion poll showed Marine Le Pen, the anti-EU far-right candidate, narrowing the gap with her rivals in the upcoming French presidential election.

The spread between France and Germany’s 10-year government bonds grew to the widest level since August 2012.

The euro is down 0.2 per cent at $1.0588 in Asian trade, facing a third straight day of declines.

The US dollar index was up 0.2 per cent on Tuesday, putting pressure on rival currencies. The Japanese yen was down 0.4 per cent at ¥113.53 per dollar despite data showing an manufacturing activity expanded in January at its quickest pace since early 2014. The Australian dollar was down 0.2 per cent at $0.7673 despite minutes from the central bank’s February meeting striking a relatively upbeat tone.

Japan’s Topix was up 0.4 per cent as exporters received a boost from the weaker yen, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.1 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent, while China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.3 per cent.

Oil prices were firmer, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, up 0.1 per cent at $56.24 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate up 0.6 per cent at $53.71.

Gold was down 0.3 per cent at $1,234.82 an ounce.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

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