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Asian markets quiet down with North Korea fears receding

Wednesday 03.20 BST

What you need to know

  • Dollar index holds steady
  • Oil prices edge up
  • Concerns over geopolitical tensions continue to ease
  • Focus swings to strong US retail sales

Asia Pacific equities were mixed on Wednesday as the dollar held on to gains following strong US retail sales data and fear of conflict between the US and North Korea continued to recede.

Hot topic

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 was down 0.2 per cent amid a flurry of earnings releases. Woodside Petroleum jumped as much as 5.6 per cent after the company reported a 49 per cent increase in net profit in the first half of the year. Fairfax Media rose as much as 2.5 per cent after the company released its full-year results and outlined plans to retain 60 per cent of property classifieds business Domain after it spins off the company.

The Topix was 0.1 per cent higher in Japan as the industrials sector gained 0.3 per cent while the consumer discretionary sector slipped by the same amount.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.4 per cent as index heavyweight Tencent rose 1.2 per cent ahead of its first-half earnings release expected after market close.

South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.7 per cent after a public holiday on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 was 0.1 per cent lower at the close of trade in New York.

Forex

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against six peer currencies, was flat at 93.825 after strengthening on Tuesday after US retail sales data for July came in above expectations.

The Japanese yen was flat at ¥110.66 to the greenback while fellow haven currency, the Swiss franc, edged lower to SFr0.9731 per dollar as fears over tensions between the US and North Korea receded.

The pound was hovering at a five-week low against the dollar at $1.2871 after falling 0.7 per cent on Tuesday on weaker-than-expected UK inflation data.

Fixed income

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury, which moves inversely to its price, was up 4.9 basis points at 2.268 per cent.

Commodities

Oil prices firmed following a choppy session on Tuesday with the price of Brent crude rising 0.4 per cent to $51.01 a barrel. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was 0.4 per cent higher at $47.72 a barrel.

Gold was 0.2 per cent stronger at $1,273 per ounce after falling $10.62 on Tuesday.

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