Equities were facing choppy waters in Asian trade on Friday as the dollar lost ground to regional currencies and China reported on-target economic growth ahead of the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump.
The dollar index measuring the greenback against a basket of peers pushed down 0.2 per cent in the morning session after a two-day winning streak had left it 0.8 per cent higher at Thursday’s close.
The biggest winners among Asia Pacific currencies were the New Zealand dollar, which rose 0.3 per cent to NZ$0.7214, and the Australian dollar, which climbed 0.2 per cent to $0.7578.
Japan’s yen strengthened 0.1 per cent to ¥114.7, having softened as much as 0.9 per cent on Thursday only to regain most of that ground to close 0.2 per cent weaker.
China’s currency was little moved by economic data showing the country’s GDP growth had come in at 6.7 per cent as expected, with the onshore renminbi essentially flat at Rmb6.8612 per dollar following the figure’s release. However the less tightly managed offshore rate was 0.2 per cent stronger at Rmb6.8358.
Stock indices across the region were choppy as Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.5 per cent as its finance and materials segments both falling 1.2 per cent while energy and real estate stocks dipped 0.5 per cent each.
Tokyo shares were struggling to stay above the water line after an initial pop, with both the broad Topix index and the price-focused Nikkei 225 up 0.1 per cent by mid-morning, jumping out of negative territory after the release of China’s GDP data.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index started low and pushed lower, down 0.6 per cent in the morning session, with real estate, energy and consumer staples stocks all down around 1 per cent.
Treasuries recovered somewhat in Asian trading as the region’s sovereign bonds put in a mixed performance. The yield, which moves inversely to price, on 10-year US government bonds was down 2 basis points at 2.4591 per cent after a two-day losing streak had pushed it up 14 basis points by Thursday’s close.
Japanese sovereign bonds were steady following a milder rise of 3 basis points over the same two-day period, with yield on 10-year notes down marginally at 0.073 per cent.
Yield on 10-year Australian bonds continued to push higher, rising 2 basis points to 2.774 per cent and continuing on from Thursday’s increase of 8 basis points. New Zealand 10-year bonds were 5 basis points higher at 3.251 per cent, having risen 10 basis points the previous day.
Oil prices continued to gain despite data showing crude inventories in the US had grown more than expected for two weeks running. Both the international benchmark, Brent crude, and the US marker, West Texas Intermediate, were up 0.3 per cent at $54.33 and $51.54 a barrel, respectively.
After an uneven Thursday session that saw gold fall as much as 0.7 per cent to close just 0.1 per cent higher, the yellow metal was enjoying a mild recovery in Asia trading with a rise of 0.2 per cent to $1,207.02 an ounce.
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