ASIA MARKETS: September Gets Off To A Slow Start For Asian Markets

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Kospi in the negative after early gains, Nikkei retreats from morning highs

Asia-Pacific stocks pared initial gains on Friday as the end of summer dried out trading volume and Southeast Asian markets were closed for a holiday.

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A solid earnings season has also come to an end in the region, removing a potential market catalyst.

"There are a lot of moving parts in the news flow at the moment, but no one is really making the connection between these and the markets," said Chris Weston, a strategist at IG Markets. At the same time, markets aren't concerned about geopolitics, Tuesday's selloff notwithstanding, he added.

After gains on Wall Street to end August, moves were widely muted in Asia.

South Korea's Kospi was an exception. After trading little changed the first hour, it slid as much as 0.5% before quickly erasing much of that move. Despite index heavyweight Samsung Electronics' (005930.SE) slight rise, the broader market was widely lower as the U.S. dollar has been pulling back; it was down 0.4% in Asian trading versus the Korean won.

The greenback's weakness also capped stock gains in Japan. The Nikkei started up as much as 0.5% but was recently just 0.2% higher.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fully reversed its early advance to trade down 0.1% after notching a fourth-straight down month in August, its longest such streak in two years.

But Chinese stocks started modestly higher, adding to Thursday gains.

With September's arrival, the market is in what has historically been a selloff market, noted Tim Kelleher, head of foreign-exchange institutional training at ASB Bank in New Zealand. That might make investors somewhat wary of taking large positions near term.

An additional reason not to do so is Friday's forthcoming release of the monthly U.S. jobs report. A better-than-expected number could see the dollar undo the past day's reversal, Kelleher said.

Meanwhile, markets in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are closed Friday for a holiday.

Elsewhere, U.S. and global benchmark oil futures were down modestly in Asian trading after having jumped nearly 3% Thursday on a surge in U.S. gasoline futures amid continued supply worries after tropical storm Harvey shut down more than 20% of U.S. oil-refining capacity. Gasoline was recently down 0.4%, with crude off about the same.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 31, 2017 22:50 ET (02:50 GMT)