Asian shares mixed, dollar breaks 110 yen mark
HONG KONG – Asian markets were mostly higher on Wednesday, October 1 with Japan's Nikkei rising after a survey of business confidence showed a surprise pick-up and the dollar broke above 110 yen for the first time in more than 6 years.
The dollar extended its run-up despite disappointing indicators out of Washington on September 30, while the euro continues to struggle after eurozone inflation hit a 5-year low.
Tokyo edged up 0.26% by the break and Sydney edged up marginally 0.31% but Seoul was 0.66% lower.
Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for public holidays but markets are keeping a nervous watch on the southern Chinese financial hub as a pro-democracy protest moves into its fourth day.
Following the weekend police tear gassing of demonstrators, there had been fears of clashes as the city's government marked Chinese National Day Wednesday but by mid-morning there had been no incident.
Protestors, who have shut down some of the city's main thoroughfares, have vowed to stay put until Beijing agrees to give them full universal suffrage.
In Japan, the central bank said its closely watched Tankan survey showed confidence among large manufacturers increased to plus 13 in July-September. Markets had forecast a reading of plus 10.
The figure is welcome news for the government after the index tumbled to 12 in April-June following a sales tax hike at the start of the quarter. The index marks the difference between the percentage of firms that are upbeat and those that see conditions as unfavorable.
On currency markets, the dollar climbed to 110.09 yen – its highest since August 2008 – as investors bet on an early rate hike by the US Federal Reserve as the economy picks up pace, while the Bank of Japan mulls easing measures to jumpstart growth at home.
The greenback gains came despite a rare batch of weak data out of Washington, with the Conference Board index of US consumer confidence falling to 86.0 from 93.4 in August due to concerns about the jobs market.
On Wall Street, the Dow eased 0.175, the S&P 500 fell 0.28%, and the Nasdaq lost 0.28%.
In other forex trade, the euro bought $1.26 and 138.64 yen against $1.26 and 138.50 yen.
The single currency slipped below $1.26 on September 30 for the first time since September 2012 after data showed inflation at just 0.3% in September, its lowest since 2009 and fuelling fears of deflation in the troubled bloc.
On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery was up $0.36 to $91.52 a barrel in mid-morning trade and Brent crude for November advanced $0.47 cents to $95.14.
Gold was at $1,207.25 an ounce against $1,207.30 late September 30. – Rappler.com