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Asia equities mixed as dollar continues to slide

Monday 06:10 GMT

Overview

The US dollar continued its slide in the wake of last week’s widely expected decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, while Asian stocks were mixed.

European bourses are expected to open with a soft bias, with spreadbetters predicting the UK’s FTSE 100 will be unchanged but Germany’s Dax to drop 30 points to 12,065. US index futures suggest the S&P 500 will shed 4 points to 2,374, when trading gets under way later in New York.

Hot topic

The US dollar index remained the focal point for markets, extending its losing streak to a fourth session, which is on track to be its longest losing run since early November just before the US presidential election.

The dollar index, a measure of the US currency against a basket of global peers, was off 0.2 per cent at 100.15 in Asia, after dropping 0.9 per cent last week for its largest weekly slide since mid-January.

Forex

The Japanese yen was 0.1 per cent stronger at ¥112.63 per dollar despite its home market being shut for a holiday, and was on pace for a fifth consecutive session of gains.

The Australian dollar was up 0.3 per cent at $0.7725 — its highest since early November.

Equities

Singapore’s Straits Times index was off 0.5 per cent, weighed down by banks and the energy sector. Over the weekend Ezra Holdings, a Singapore-listed oilfield services company that counts Singaporean banks DBS and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation among its biggest lenders, filed for bankruptcy in the US.

The Hang Seng index rose 0.6 per cent to touch its highest point since August 2015, leaving the Hong Kong benchmark up 11 per cent so far in 2017. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks mainland companies listed in Hong Kong, is up more than 10 per cent, putting the two among the best-performing indices in the world this year.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.4 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite inched 0.2 per cent lower. Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

Commodities

Gold rallied as the US dollar weakened, rising 0.5 per cent to $1,234.77 an ounce in Asia.

Oil prices remained under pressure, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, down 0.6 per cent at $51.44 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate off 0.9 per cent at $48.36.

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