Asia-Pacific Markets Weaker, Brushing Off Trump Speech -- 2nd Update

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Asia-Pacific shares were broadly weaker, following losses on Wall Street overnight even though President Donald Trump struck a mostly conciliatory tone in his first State of the Union address.

Investors were focused on Mr. Trump's comments, in case he made comments which could impact trade or the global economy, but his speech mentioned little in the way of new policies and Asian markets quickly looked to local factors.

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"It is not a market-upsetting speech; rather a motherhood and apple pie in the great American tradition," said Rob Carnell, head of research for Asia-Pacific at Dutch bank ING.

He noted there was no major criticism of Russia and China while details on infrastructure spending were thin. Elaborating on the latter could have pushed bond yields higher still, playing into recent market nervousness.

Mr. Trump mostly stayed away from surprises and signaled a willingness to work across party lines. S&P 500 futures were recently up 0.1% after rising 0.3% earlier.

The Nikkei ended down 0.8%, notching its first six-day losing streak in two months following fresh gains for the yen against the dollar. But it wasn't enough to keep the index from rising a fifth-straight month, the longest since the opening five months of 2015.

The dollar was recently at Yen108.70, after briefly topping Yen109 during Mr. Trump's speech. The WSJ Dollar Index was down 0.2% and at session lows ahead of the start of European trading.

Chinese equities fell early amid the expiration of futures contracts Wednesday and a decline to eight-month lows for a key manufacturing reading for January.

The pain was strongest in Shenzhen, where many smaller companies trade. The Shenzhen Composite Index was down 1.6% in afternoon trading while the startup-heavy ChiNext slid 2.5%, putting it on pace for a third-straight monthly drop.

After some of the biggest declines in several months on Tuesday indexes in Australia, Hong Kong and Korea rose as much as 0.5% around midday before pulling back.

New Zealand's NZX-50 saw the biggest gain and finished up 1.7% thanks to a late surge, allowing the index to rise 0.5% for the month. It was the 13th straight monthly gain for the index, which jumped 22% in 2017.

Oil futures extended this week's pullback, falling nearly 1% in Asia after a U.S. industry group said domestic crude supplies rose nearly double the amount expected to be shown in Wednesday's government release.

Bitcoin futures largely stayed slightly below $10,000, according to CoinDesk, after dropping more than 15% the prior two days.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 31, 2018 02:07 ET (07:07 GMT)

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