Asian shares slip as the dollar firms; HSBC beats expectations

Asian shares mostly traded lower on Tuesday after a relatively quiet overnight session, due to U.S. markets being closed for a holiday on Monday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.93 percent as financials, manufacturing and energy-related names traded in negative territory, while technology stocks traded mixed.

Automakers were mostly lower, with Toyota down 0.87 percent. Mitsubishi Motors edged higher by 0.36 percent in the afternoon, outperforming its peers. The move followed a Nikkei report that Mitsubishi Corporation was looking into raising its stake in Mitsubishi Motors to approximately 20 percent through a tender offer. Mitsubishi Corporation, which traded down 1.75 percent, said it had yet to reach a decision, according to Reuters.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi slipped 0.83 percent, with losses seen in heavyweight technology names: Samsung Electronics fell 1.86 percent and SK Hynix declined 1.05 percent.

The manufacturing sector was mixed. Shares of steelmakers Posco and Hyundai Steel gained 0.55 percent and 0.19 percent, respectively.

The moves came after South Korea’s trade ministry on Monday indicated it would not sit on its hands if the U.S. implemented tariffs on steel imports. Yonhap News Agency said South Korea would weigh filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization if the U.S. decided to impose those tariffs.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 was off by 0.09 percent as the 1.65 percent gain in the information technology sector was offset by declines seen in other sectors. The heavily weighted financials sub-index slipped 0.21 percent, and the materials sub-index was lower by 0.57 percent. Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia released on Tuesday indicated policymakers were sanguine about the uptick in the global economy.

RBA members also noted that wage growth “was yet to pick up” despite the robust job market and highlighted that household debt remained “elevated.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index erased early losses to edge higher by 0.12 percent as markets resumed trade after a long Lunar New Year weekend.

Property developers, telcos and energy-related stocks slid in early trade, while technology stocks were mixed. Heavyweight Tencent shed 0.4 percent early on.

Of note, HSBC reported better-than-expected full year profit on Tuesday. The bank’s full-year profit before tax increased 10.9 percent to $20.99 billion after adjusting for foreign currency translation and one-off items. That was more than the $19.59 billion forecast by Reuters.

Ahead of the results, HSBC shares traded higher by 0.78 percent while other financial names traded mixed. China Construction Bank lost 0.83 percent, insurer AIA was flat and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was down 1 percent.

Markets in China, Taiwan and Vietnam remained closed on Tuesday for the Lunar New Year holiday.

On the earnings front, interim results from mining major BHP are due after the market close in Australia.

European stock indexes closed in negative territory on Monday, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 finishing the day 0.66 percent lower. Other indexes in the region also closed with moderate losses.

Volumes were weaker than usual in the last session due to U.S. markets being closed on Monday for Presidents Day.

After a quiet overnight session, the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of rivals, firmed to trade at 89.381 at 12:08 p.m. HK/SIN. That was below a high of 89.442 hit in the last session, but firmly above last week’s low of 88.253.

Against the yen, the greenback traded at 106.80, off a low of 106.08 touched on Monday.

The Australian dollar was steady at $0.7910 after slipping as low as $0.7887 earlier in the day.

“In the near term, the Australian dollar remains trapped. Poor U.S. dollar sentiment continues to provide support, but a low yield structure and unchanged domestic story are providing few catalysts for renewed upside,” David Plank, head of Australian economics at ANZ, said in a morning note.

On the commodities front, oil prices traded mixed on Tuesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 1.02 percent to trade at $62.31 per barrel while Brent crude futures shed 0.35 percent to trade at $65.44.

Source: CNBC