Nikkei gains as yen falls; investors cash in on profits from Taiwan's Apple suppliers
Equity markets in Asia lacked direction early Wednesday, as broad gains in financials lifted stocks in Australia and Japan, though China's markets underperformed.
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Global risk appetite returned this week, with all three major U.S. stock indexes hitting fresh highs overnight as geopolitical tensions eased. In addition, Hurricane Irma didn't do as much damage to Florida as expected and U.S. oil refiners have ramped up after Hurricane Harvey battered Texas.
"There's been a repricing of overall risk the past few days," said Tareck Horchani, head of Asia-Pacific sales trading at Saxo Capital Markets. "After North Korea did nothing, equities rallied and all the safe haven currencies depreciated. It has changed the mood of the market."
Still, some Asian markets pared gains made earlier in the week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index led declines, falling 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index was recently off 0.1%.
In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.5% in morning trade, adding to gains after closing at its best level in five weeks. The yen hit a 19-month low versus the euro, which helped shares of exporters.
In Asia trade Wednesday, the yen pared some losses, but the U.S. dollar was still buying Yen110.08, up from Yen109.40 when Tokyo markets closed Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3%, while South Korea's Kospi was 0.1% higher and the New Zealand's NZX 50 was up just 0.04%. In Thailand, the SET was expected to experience some selling pressure after closing near a 24-year high on Tuesday.
Financial stocks were among the best regional performers on Wednesday, due in part to gains in bond yields, as bond prices broadly declined. Australia's big four banks were up about 0.8%, while Japan's Topix bank subindex added 1.5%.
Meanwhile, technology stocks were lower as investors took profit from the run-up in shares ahead of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) Tuesday launch of its latest iPhone models. Some investors said it was too early to gauge future demand for the new phones, some of which carry much higher price tags than earlier versions.
Among key Apple parts suppliers in Taiwan, Largan Precision (3008.TW) was off 3.7%, while Hon Hai Precision (2317.TW) fell 0.9%, and TSMC (2330.TW) lost 0.5%. That weakness drove Taiwan's benchmark Taiex down 0.5%.
Oil futures were little changed in Asia even as the American Petroleum Institute's weekly read on U.S. inventories contained a bigger gain for crude and larger decline in gasoline than was expected from a coming government report, due later Wednesday. Meanwhile, gold slipped as haven demand continued to wane.
October Nymex oil was up 1 cent at $48.24 a barrel, while November Brent was off 11 cents at $54.16 a barrel. Spot gold was flat at $1,331.98 a troy ounce.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 12, 2017 23:35 ET (03:35 GMT)