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Asian markets extend gains, dollar up but dealers cautious

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An electronics stocks indicator displays share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on October 11, 2017.<br />The Nikkei 225 gained 0.22 percent, or 46.73 points, to sit at 20,870.24 by the break. If it closes at that level or higher, it would be the index’s highest close since 1996. / AFP PHOTO / Kazuhiro NOGI

Asian equities edged up Tuesday as traders took a breather after recent strong gains, with more records on Wall Street unable to spur strong buying, but the dollar built on the previous day’s rally.

While optimism remains over the world economy and corporate earnings — helping push global markets to all-time or multi-month highs — investors moved carefully as they await the next catalyst.

New York’s three main indexes chalked up yet more fresh peaks on Monday thanks to a rally in banks and hopes that Donald Trump can still push through his economic agenda despite a series of setbacks for his legislative programme.

Hong Kong ended marginally higher, extending gains to a fourth straight day, but Shanghai slipped 0.2 percent with eyes turning to Thursday’s release of Chinese economic growth data.

The readings will come a day after the country’s leadership starts its twice-a-decade meeting of the Communist Party. President Xi Jinping is set to be handed a second term, while changes to several key party leadership positions are expected.

Tokyo rose 0.4 percent, an 11th straight gain, to put the Nikkei at a new 21-year high.

Sydney was up 0.7 percent on a bounce in commodity prices, Seoul added 0.2 percent and Singapore lifted 0.3 percent. Manila piled on 1.6 percent but Taipei, Bangkok and Jakarta were all lower.

In early European trade London was flat, Paris rose 0.12 percent and Frankfurt dipped 0.1 percent.

Euro weakens
On currency markets the dollar extended Monday’s gains against the euro following comments from Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen hinting at a further interest rate rise this year, while dealers fret over Spain’s Catalonia crisis.

Madrid warned the region’s separatist leader on Monday that he has only three days left to “return to legality” after he refused to say whether he would follow through on a threat to declare independence from Spain, one of the eurozone’s biggest economies.

The greenback was also pushing up against the pound as Britain struggles to make headway in talks with the European Union on how to break away from the bloc.

The US unit has also been given support from talk that a known fiscal hawk is being considered as a front-runner to take over from Yellen when her term ends early next year.

Trump is said to have been impressed with Stanford University economist John Taylor at an interview last week, fuelling speculation he is in prime position.

Oil prices extended gains on news that Iraqi forces had swept into Kirkuk province, seizing the governor’s office, key military sites and an oilfield following a controversial Kurdish independence referendum.

“News … that conflict has broken out near the oil-rich region around Kirkuk sent prices higher again and this has to increase the chances that Turkey — which has its own concerns about Kurdish independence — will turn off the tap on the Kurdish pipeline,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

– Key figures around 0820 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 21,336.12 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 28,697.49 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,372.04 (close)

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,528.42

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1760 from $1.1796 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3240 from $1.3252

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.23 from 112.21 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 13 cents at $52.00 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 18 cents at $58.00 per barrel

New York – DOW: UP 0.3 percent at 22,956.96 (close)


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