Asia-Pacific markets mixed as shares in South Korea, China struggle for gains

Pedestrians cross a road in front of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), operated by Japan Exchange Group Inc. (JPX), in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed Tuesday after starting the week by struggling for gains in what some analysts have described as a fragile environment for stocks.

In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 retraced some of its earlier gains but still traded 0.39% higher. The heavily-weighted financials subindex advanced 1.12% as major banking names rose. ANZ shares were up 1.71%, Commonwealth Bank added 0.79%, Westpac rose 1.29% and National Australia Bank was up 1.51%.

Japanese shares initially struggled after market open, but the Nikkei 225 erased early losses to trade up 0.29%. The Topix index eked out a 0.69% gain. Banking and auto shares in Japan broadly advanced as the likes of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Toyota, and Honda traded higher.

South Korean shares fell sharply, with the Kospi down 1.44% and the Kosdaq tumbling 2.15%. Tech shares mostly declined: Samsung was down 1.22%, chipmaker SK Hynix was down 2.58% while search engine operator Naver fell 3.53%. LG Electronics reversed earlier losses to trade up 1.05%.

Chinese mainland shares fell, with the Shanghai composite down 0.88% and the Shenzhen component lower by 1.39%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index advanced 0.99%.

Tuesday’s session followed after European and U.S. stocks began the new week on a positive mood, where blue-chip benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 300 points while the rotation out of tech continued.

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The overnight moves were “driven by cyclicals and banks, a sign of optimism about the economic outlook and the impact of steeper yield curves,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at the National Australia Bank.

Analysts at Mizuho Bank said in a Tuesday morning note that “unrelentingly higher” U.S. Treasury yields “appear to be the culprit demanding a re-assessment of valuations.”

The 10-year Treasury yield has risen sharply in recent weeks, in anticipation of more stimulus on top of a booming economic recovery in the United States. The benchmark rate started the calendar year below the 1% mark and was around 1.566% as of Tuesday morning during Asian trading hours.

Investors this week will watch as the U.S. House of Representatives plans to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill to get fresh aid to Americans starting this month. That follows after the Senate passed the legislation over the weekend. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it before key unemployment programs expire on Sunday.

Analysts also said that they remain constructive on the near term economic outlook.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar traded up 0.1% at 92.406 against a basket of its peers, after trading below the 91.00 level in the previous week.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 109.17 per dollar, weakening from an earlier level around 108.85, while the Australian dollar dropped 0.1% to $0.7642.

Momentum in the oil market recovered during Asian trading hours on Tuesday as prices rose. U.S. crude reversed earlier losses to trade up 0.48% at $65.36 a barrel while Brent was up 0.53% at $68.60.

The global benchmark broke the $70-mark on Monday before retreating. Saudi Arabia initially reported that its oil facilities were targeted by missiles and drones on Sunday. A Houthi military spokesman claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Analysts said that the run up in prices were likely to be short-lived as the Saudis said there was no significant damage to infrastructure.



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