ASIA MARKETS: Hong Kong Leads Slight Asian Market Gains

Investors remain wary ahead of Jackson Hole meeting

Equity markets in Asia gained slightly Thursday, with indexes trading in a tight range as investors await guidance from a key meeting of global central bankers.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index led the region's increases, rising 0.4%, as it played catch-up after being shut the previous session from Typhoon Hato, in the market's first full-day trading suspension due to weather since October.

Concerns about the Trump administration's ability to deliver on its agenda heightened further overnight after President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the government to secure funding for a Mexico border wall. That put pressure on buying interest.

Still, a slight recovery in the U.S. dollar from overnight weakness -- and investor focus on the annual Jackson Hole, Wyo., symposium due to start later in the global day -- gave some support to equity prices.

"Markets are hoping for a change in sentiment that can take us off the recent risk-off mode," said Michala Marcussen, global head of economics at Société Générale, although she didn't think the summit would provide this.

Elsewhere in the region, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.4%, Taiwan's Taiex gained 0.8%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 reversed early weakness to end up 0.1%, lifted by gains in mining stocks.

Among large Australian mining companies, Rio Tinto (RIO) and BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) gained 3.1% and 2.2%.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.4% despite the U.S. dollar's recovery against the yen in Asian trade. The dollar was last at Yen109.19, up 0.2%.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5%.

In Hong Kong, Macau-related casino stocks were broadly lower, as Typhoon Hato's direct hit on the gambling hub led to flooding and widespread power outages, disrupting operations at many casinos and hotels.

As the operators assess the full extent of damages, SJM Holdings (0880.HK) was off 1.5%, while Sands China (1928.HK) fell 1.1% and Galaxy Entertainment (0027.HK) declined 0.6%.

Among other commodities, oil prices managed to hold on to their 1% gains from overnight as U.S. data showed that supplies fell. Nymex crude and Brent futures were both down 8 U.S. cents at $48.33 and $52.49 a barrel each in Asian trade.

In the debt market, investors were also sitting on the sidelines ahead of the Jackson Hole gathering. Japan's newest 20-year tenor's yield was recently a bit higher at 0.545% while the 30-year note was down slightly at 0.82%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 24, 2017 05:57 ET (09:57 GMT)