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Asia equities mixed after New York closes at record high

Thursday 03:45 BST

What you need to know

  • Asia bourses mixed after New York closes at record high
  • Australian dollar buoyed by employment data
  • Renminbi trading band set weaker for third day
  • Gold continues retreat

Overview

Asia-Pacific markets were mixed as sentiment from the S&P 500’s third consecutive record close failed to catch on in the region. Japan’s Topix index rose to its highest in two years while stock markets in Hong Kong and Sydney fell. The renminbi extended its slide against the dollar, while gold fell to its lowest point this month.

Hot topic

The onshore renminbi weakened further on Thursday, down 0.2 per cent to Rmb6.55 per dollar, its weakest since September 4. The currency had climbed to Rmb6.4349 against the dollar on Friday, a 21-month high.

On Thursday the People’s Bank of China set the daily fix — the midpoint around which the renminbi can trade 2 per cent in either direction against the dollar — at Rmb6.5465, 0.1 per cent softer than Wednesday and marking a third straight day of weakening. It had lowered the midpoint 0.4 per cent on Tuesday, the biggest such move since January.

Equities

The S&P 500 US equity index reached an intraday record peak on Wednesday and also hit its third successive record close, even as Apple shares dropped 0.8 per cent after the company confirmed higher pricing for its latest smartphone. The index closed up 0.1 per cent to 2,498.

In Tokyo the Topix index was up 0.3 per cent at its highest since August 2015, while South Korea’s Kospi also rose by a similar amount.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.4 per cent and in Sydney the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was slightly lower. Australian media companies climbed on Thursday following reports the government was close to a deal to scrap controls on media ownership, with shares in Fairfax Media rising 1.3 per cent.

The MSCI International ex-Japan index was down 0.1 per cent.

Forex

The Australian dollar pushed back above the $0.80 mark on Thursday after data showed the country added more jobs than expected in August. It rose 0.3 per cent to $0.8011 following the news.

The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of peers, was paring gains from Wednesday, down 0.1 per cent. The dollar had risen 0.6 per cent at 92.46 in late trade in New York, its highest since September 5.

Fixed income

Sovereign bonds in the region were declining, dragging up yield. Yields on the 10-year Australian government bond were up 5 basis points at 2.714 per cent, while those on the equivalent Japanese note were also up 2bp at 0.023 per cent. Yield on the 10-year US Treasury was flat at 2.187 per cent.

Commodities

Gold, which reached a 12-month high at the end of last week amid rising geopolitical tension and several extreme weather events, continued to retreat on Thursday. The metal was down 0.2 per cent at $1,320 an ounce, its lowest since August 31.

Brent crude pared gains in the US on Wednesday when it climbed 1.6 per cent to $55.16, its highest since April. The international benchmark fell 0.2 per cent to $55.05 a barrel in Asia trading. West Texas Intermediate, the main US contract, was down 0.1 per cent at $49.25.

Thermal coal, used in steel production, was up 0.6 per cent, breaching the $100-a-tonne mark.

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