ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Start Off Quiet, With Investors' Eyes On U.S. Shutdown

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Nintendo jumps, boosting Nikkei; Taiex hits fresj 28-year high

Asia-Pacific stocks started trading with little movement Friday, following scant moves overnight in the U.S. and Europe.

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Investors continue to watch the latest U.S. budget battle on Capitol Hill, where uncertainly over a possible partial government shutdown this weekend continues. While the House late Thursday passed a one-month spending bill, Democrats say they have the votes to block it in the Senate.

"I've gone through several of these possible shutdowns and this is the most nonchalant attitude I have seen the market take," said Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia at Oanda.

Most Asian indexes were within 0.1% of Thursday's closing levels, except for Japan's Nikkei and Taiwan's Taiex , which both gained 0.3%. The latter hit fresh 28-year highs, as Taiwan Semiconductor (2330.TW) -- the index's biggest company -- jumped another 1.6% to another record.

The Nikkei was aided by Nintendo (7974.TO) jumping another 4% -- it's up 17% this month and just below nine-year highs.

The U.S. dollar stabilized at almost Yen111 following its latest bout of selling. However, Tim Kelleher, head of institutional FX sales at ASB Bank in New Zealand, said the greenback will likely remain under pressure until the budget situation is resolved. "Most people expect it will get sorted before the deadline," he said.

The Senate is expected to begin considering the bill as soon as Thursday night. The first vote would be on a motion to proceed; that needs just 50 votes to pass. Democrats are likely to support that to buy more time to reach a better deal, a congressional aide said.

Base metals rebounded overnight following the release of data on China's economic growth for the last quarter of 2017. However, ANZ noted that premium hard-coking coal fell sharply as Chinese traders turned back to the domestic market.

Oil futures slid in Asian trading, extending an afternoon pullback in the U.S. that followed an initial rebound from session lows. The gain came as U.S. oil inventories fell more than expected last week, but pressure came from a rebound in domestic production and an increase in average daily output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in December. Futures, which have been steadily rising the past month to set a series of three-year highs, were recently down almost 1%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 22:01 ET (03:01 GMT)

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