ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Start August With Gains

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Kospi rebounds from Friday's losses, commodities boost Australian stocks

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Equities continued to rise Tuesday, with Asian stocks starting August widely higher during what has been a strong earnings season so far.

But there has been caution that further declines in the U.S. dollar, near its lowest levels in a year, could crimp results. A weaker dollar could make Asian exports less competitive over time.

Korea led the way in Asia, where the Kospi stock benchmark had been logging record highs before a pause capped by Friday's 1.7% slide, its biggest of 2017.

But the index rebounded 0.9%, with index heavyweight Samsung (005930.SE) recovering 0.7% after recent weakness. Meanwhile, Asiana (020560.SE) and Korean Air (003490.SE) each rose some 2%.

Australian stocks were also strong early Tuesday, helped by continued gains in commodity prices. After equities there lagged behind again in July, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5%, with miners and oil firms including Rio Tinto (RIO) , BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) and Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AU) gaining more than 1%.

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Overnight, oil prices hit fresh two-month highs, enabling U.S. and international crude benchmarks to post their biggest monthly gains of 2017 in July. Prices were little changed in Asia.

Stock gains were more modest in places including China , Japan and Hong Kong . Tokyo equities continued to be capped by the weaker dollar; it was recently around Yen110.30 and overnight neared Yen110.00.

Later Tuesday, the latest policy statement from Australia's central bank is due. While no policy change is expected, the focus is on how hard commentary might be regarding the Australian dollar's recent gains.

The currency is well above the central bank's "equilibrium level," National Australia Bank says. The Australian dollar was steadily gaining on Tuesday in Asia, rising some 0.5% on the session versus most major currencies.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 23:32 ET (03:32 GMT)