Japanese stocks lower as yen jumps against dollar

Japanese stocks traded weaker on Monday after seven straight sessions of gains as the yen gained sharply against the dollar and oil prices slipped.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.49 percent, likely due to yen strength, which is seen as a negative for Japanese export-oriented stocks. The dollar fell more than 1 percent, to trade at 111.88 against the yen as of 11:50 am HK/SIN, compared to levels above 113 last week.

Australia’s ASX 200 slipped 0.46 percent, weighed by weaknesses in its energy sub-index, which fell 1.71 percent, and its materials sub-index, which was down 1.14 percent.

Tabcorp jumped 2.38 percent at $4.73 per share, after The Mail on Sunday reported that British bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral planned to make a 2 billion pound ($2.5 billion) bid for the Australian betting company.

In South Korea, the Kospi recovered from earlier losses to trade up 0.38 percent. Hundreds of thousands people rallied in Seoul at the weekend for the fifth straight week of protests against President Park Geun-hye, who is embroiled in a scandal over influence-peddling.

In China, the Shanghai composite was up 0.51 percent and the Shenzhen composite inched up 0.128 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.67 percent.

Last Friday, China and Hong Kong securities regulators announced that the long-awaited Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock connect would kick-off on December 5. The trading link would allow foreign investors to trade Shenzhen stocks from Hong Kong.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was softer at 100.83 as of 11:52 am HK/SIN, compared to a surge to 102.07 last week, a level not seen since April 2003.

“We think that the dampening of the dollar strength is temporary. Overall, the USD momentum remains to the upside amid Trump’s vast infrastructure program and Fed imminent tightening,” said Cynthia Jane Kalasopatan, market economist at Mizuho Bank, said in a note on Monday.

Markets have been on a roll since Donald Trump’s surprise presidential election victory on Nov. 8, with “Trumponomics” expected to mean more fiscal spending and higher inflation, while interest rates are also expected to rise.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 0.36 percent at 19,152.14 after a holiday-shortened trading session on Friday, the S&P 500 closed up 0.39 percent at 2,213.35 and the Nasdaq composite closed up 0.34 percent at 5,398.92.

The small-cap Russell 2000 hit record intraday highs before closing up up 0.38 percent at 1,164.14, a record high close, and notching its longest winning streak since 1996.

“We have a number of really bullish set-ups in global indices at present, obviously, we’ve seen this front and center in all four main U.S. indices, the Nikkei 225 and also the Chinese CSI 300, which is near the year’s highs,” Chris Weston, chief market analyst at spreadbettor IG, said in a note on Monday. “However, we can now add the ASX 200, which, after pushing through 5,500 is eyeing the year’s highs of 5,611 itself.”

Energy shares will also likely be in focus after Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia said it would not attend talks on Monday with non-OPEC members to discuss production cuts, which prompted a fall in crude futures on Friday of more than 3 percent on Friday in the U.S. On Monday in Asian trade, U.S. crude futures were down 0.89 percent at $45.65 a barrel, while Brent futures dropped 0.91 percent at $46.81.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih said he believed the oil market would balance itself in 2017 even if producers did not intervene, and that keeping output at current levels could therefore be justified. He said that Saudi Arabia was not attending the Monday meeting because OPEC members themselves had not agreed on production levels.

Across the Asia Pacific region, major oil companies were mostly lower. Australia’s Santos dropped 2.39 percent to A$4.09 per share, while Oil Search stock fell 2.2percent to A$6.77 and Japan’s Inpex was down 1.32 percent at 1,084.5 yen. China’s Shanghai Pechem bucked the trend to trade up 0.82 percent at 6.16 yuan, along with South Korea’s Inpex which was up 0.82 percent at 86,000 won.

Source: CNBC