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Asia equities mixed amid Wall Street calm

Tuesday 02.50 BST

Overview

Stocks across Asia were mixed on Tuesday as investors grappled with Wall Street’s lowest level of volatility since before the financial crisis amid a holiday-interrupted week.

Hot topic

Wall Street’s preferred fear gauge slid on Monday to its lowest close since mid-February 2007. The Chicago Board Options Exchange implied volatility index finished at 10.11, and at one point traded below the 10-point mark for the second time this year.

The low volatility helped push the Nasdaq Composite to its sixth consecutive record high close, and the S&P 500 up by 0.2 per cent.

The Vix has quickly returned to near-record lows after heightened volatility sparked by geopolitical events in the past year — such as the Brexit vote, the US election and France’s presidential vote.

Equities

Japan’s Topix was up 0.6 per cent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.5 per cent owing to a bad day for the banks. ANZ Banking Group lost 2.7 per cent — retreating from a record high — after the lender reported a half-year profit that missed analysts’ expectations.

South Korea’s Kospi was eyeing a record high with a gain of as much as 1.1 per cent to 2,229.7 in morning trade. To ensure that achievement, the benchmark needs to close above 2,228.96, struck precisely six years ago.

After returning from a long weekend, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.4 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite was fractionally lower.

UK, German and French markets were closed on Monday for public holidays.

Forex

The dollar index, a measure of the US currency against a basket of global peers, was fractionally lower at 99.062, continuing to wallow in the wake of Friday’s disappointing US gross domestic product data for the March quarter.

The Japanese yen was the weakest of the major currencies, down 0.1 per cent at ¥‎111.93 per dollar. The Korean won and the New Taiwanese dollar were the best of the bunch, each chalking up gains of 0.5 per cent despite the release of mixed inflation and manufacturing data.

The Australian dollar was up 0.1 per cent against its US counterpart ahead of this afternoon’s central bank policy meeting.

Commodities

Oil prices continued to slide as investors fretted about rising supply. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down 0.1 per cent at $51.49 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate slid 0.1 per cent at $48.77.

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