Asian investors eased off the pedal Wednesday after recent gains but the dollar held up against the yen as North Korea kept itself in the mix by warning it would strengthen its nuclear programme in response to fresh UN sanctions.
While Tokyo was able to kick on thanks to a further weakening of the yen, most regional traders were unwilling to track the record close on Wall Street, and Apple-linked firms were mixed after the firm unveiled its new phone. The latest gains have been fuelled by relief that Hurricane Irma did not hammer Florida as badly as feared and that the North Korea crisis had eased somewhat after its recent provocative nuclear and missile tests.
However, Pyongyang attracted renewed attention when it vowed Wednesday to accelerate its weapons drive after "evil" Security Council sanctions. US President Donald Trump had earlier warned of more measures against Kim Jong-Un's regime, while the European Union said it would push ahead with further moves.
In equities trade Tokyo ended 0.5 percent higher as exporters benefited from the weaker yen. The greenback broke back above 110 yen Tuesday after last week's sell-off saw it tumble to the 10-month lows around 107.30 yen. Shanghai added 0.1 percent but Hong Kong slipped 0.3 percent, while Sydney eased slightly and Seoul and Singapore lost 0.2 percent each. Wellington and Taipei were also lower.
In other currency trading the pound extended gains after hitting a one-year high against the dollar on the back of a strong British inflation reading, while it was also given support by the return of optimism to markets. London, which fell on the strong pound Tuesday, opened 0.3 percent lower and Paris shed 0.1 percent while Frankfurt was 0.2 percent off. OANDA head of Asia-Pacific trading Stephen Innes issued a word of caution after the recent global volatility. "Ultimately this buoyant risk sentiment should be cheered, but forex traders remain in the Nervous Nellie camp waiting for the next chaotic patch given the evolving narratives," he warned.
-AFP, Hong Kong
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