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Asia bourses kick off 2017 with modest gains

Tuesday 05:05 GMT

Overview

Asian markets were in an upbeat mood in the first session for 2017, after a middling performance over the Christmas to New Year period during which Wall Street continued its retreat from recent record highs.

Hot topic

At the start of a new year, investors were wondering what the next 12 months would hold. Over the near term, one of the big issues will be the sustainability of the stock market rally that has taken hold since Donald Trump was elected US president. His victory in November sparked a rally in the US dollar and a sharp sell-off in government bonds, while helping to push Wall Street to record peaks.

As his January 20 inauguration approaches, investors continue to debate whether Mr Trump will be able to achieve his policy promises, and are weighing the impact of a stronger currency on the American economy and for global markets.

Equities

A solid performance for commodity stocks drove Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 up 1.1 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7 per cent. Markets in Japan market remained shut for a public holiday.

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.8 per cent while the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite climbed 0.7 per cent.

On Friday, the S&P 500 closed 0.5 per cent lower, and 1.5 per cent adrift from a record high touched in mid-December. The US benchmark finished 2016 with a gain of 9.5 per cent.

Forex

The Australian and New Zealand dollars were the best performers among Asian currencies, each up 0.7 per cent.

The Singapore dollar gained 0.3 per cent against its US counterpart after data showed the economy grew a better than expected 1.8 per cent in 2016.

The Japanese yen was 0.1 per cent stronger at ¥‎117.32 per dollar. The dollar index, a gauge of the US currency against a basket of global peers, slipped 0.2 per cent to 102.61.

Commodities

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was up 0.6 per cent at $57.17 a barrel, with West Texas Intermediate matching that gain to be at $54.05.

Gold was up 0.9 per cent at $1,157.33 an ounce, its highest level since the middle of last month.

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