Asia markets on course to end upbeat week with losses


HONG KONG, Aug 10, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Most Asian markets dipped on Friday
after a broadly positive week as traders await the latest developments in the
China-US trade row, while the dollar retained its strength ahead of a key
inflation report.

After last week’s turmoil, the past five days have seen investors a little
more positive as they took in stride tit-for-tat threats of tariffs from the
world’s top two economies, though the fears of an all-out trade war are
keeping everyone on their toes.

In morning trade Hong Kong was up 0.1 percent, extending gains into a fifth
straight day, while Shanghai gained 0.2 percent. Wellington and Jakarta were
also higher.

But Tokyo shed 0.5 percent by the break despite data showing the Japanese
economy grew more than expected in the second quarter. The outlook was dimmed
by concerns about a trade war with the United States.

Sydney was down 0.1 percent, Singapore shed 1.3 percent and Seoul dropped
0.6 percent.

The tepid performance followed a broadly negative lead from Wall Street.

With few major catalysts in the trade stand-off, focus is now on the
release later in the day of US consumer price index data for July, which will
give an idea about price pressures across the country and help guide the
Federal Reserve in its interest rate plans.

– ‘Doves are hawkish’ –

The central bank is tipped to lift borrowing costs twice more this year,
having already hiked two times so far as Donald Trump’s massive tax cuts kick
in and the economy continues to hum along.

Expectations for further hikes have sent the dollar rallying and the unit
maintained its strength Friday after a top Fed official usually considered
dovish indicated he would back more increases.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans backed “somewhat restrictive” rate
levels to offset the fiscal stimulus, citing the possibility of inflation
hitting 2.2 percent. Evans had previously voted against hikes on concerns
that inflation would not hit the Fed’s two percent target.

“When doves are hawkish we have to take a little notice,” said Greg
McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

While the dollar was struggling against the safe haven yen owing to the
trade uncertainty, it was up or holding gains against most other units. The
South Korean won and Australian dollar were 0.6 percent down while
Indonesia’s rupiah and the Mexican peso were also well off.

The Russian ruble tumbled again and is now five percent down since the US
on Wednesday hit Russia with new sanctions over its alleged involvement in a
nerve agent attack in Britain.

And the Turkish lira was almost four percent down around record lows on
tensions between Ankara and Washington over the detention of a US pastor.

– Key figures at 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 22,494.33 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 28,628.07

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 2,800.96

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1531 from $1.1529 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2833 from $1.2826

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.89 yen from 111.09 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN seven cents at $66.74 per barrel

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 13 cents at $71.94 per barrel

New York – Dow Jones: DOWN 0.2 percent 25,509.23 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,741.77 (close)