(Source: www.businesstimes.com.sg)

[TOKYO] Asian stocks wobbled on Wednesday but still marked a 10-year high, cheered by record highs on Wall Street, while shares of Apple Inc’s suppliers dipped following the release of the latest iPhone.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was slightly lower, after earlier poking up to its highest level since October 2007. Australian shares added 0.2 per cent, while Korean shares were 0.1 per cent higher.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500, Dow Jones industrials and Nasdaq Composite all marked record finishes as investors’ concerns faded about North Korean tensions as well as the impact of Hurricane Irma.

“In the US we had a bit of unwinding of the fear trade that it’s been going through and that’s flowing through to us as well,” said Mathan Somasundaram, a market portfolio strategist with Blue Ocean Equities in Sydney.

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US gains were kept in check, however, by a decline in shares of Apple Inc after it unveiled its newest line of iPhones. Apple fell 0.6 per cent but pared some losses in afterhours trade.

The new iPhone’s sales will have repercussions beyond Apple for many suppliers as well as its rivals.

Taiwan’s benchmark dropped 0.5 per cent, as shares of Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s biggest contract chip maker, dipped 0.5 per cent, while Hon Hai Precision Industry was 0.4 per cent lower.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index added 0.5 per cent to a one-month high, getting a tailwind as the yen stayed far away for its recent peaks.

“The Nikkei is not rising on fundamentals at the moment, but rather on supply and demand moves, as the weaker yen prompts investors to cover short positions” that they took during recent bouts of risk aversion, said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.

“Lately, we have seen some reactive moves in early trading, and then stabilisation or even profit-taking later in the session, and today might be the same,” Mr Miura said.

The US dollar inched 0.1 per cent lower on the day to 110.06 yen, but remained well above last Friday’s 10-month low of 107.32 plumbed when Hurricane Irma loomed and investors braced for the possibility of another missile or nuclear test to mark North Korea’s founding day on Sept 9.

The yen tends to benefit during times of economic and political uncertainty due to Japan’s net creditor nation status, and the expectation that Japanese investors would repatriate assets during times of crisis.

Investors remained wary of a flare-up of tensions at any moment on the Korean peninsula, with US President Donald Trump saying on Tuesday that UN sanctions on North Korea this week were a “very small step”, and “nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen” to deal with the country’s nuclear programme.

North Korea remained defiant over the latest sanctions, vowing to redouble efforts to fight off what it said was the threat of a US invasion.

The euro was up 0.1 per cent at US$1.1978, while the US dollar index was down 0.1 per cent at 91.814, holding well above Friday’s 2-1/2-year low of 91.011.

Meanwhile, bitcoin skidded 3.3 per cent to US$4,027.66 on the BitStamp platform, after Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co, said on Tuesday that the crypto-currency “is a fraud” and will blow up.

Bitcoin slid 6.6 per cent on Friday, after reports that China was about to shut down local crypto-currency exchanges.

Crude oil futures were mixed after gaining on Tuesday, when Opec forecast higher demand in 2018 and Russia and Venezuela confirmed their commitment to a production-cutting deal to reduce the global crude glut.

Brent crude slipped 0.2 per cent to US$54.16 per barrel, while US crude rose slightly to US$48.24.

REUTERS

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