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Asia markets on hold ahead of Yellen speech

Friday 03.00 BST

What you need to know

  • Equities in Asia muted ahead of Jackson Hole
  • Australian dollar, yen edge down against greenback
  • Oil prices bolstered by Tropical Storm Harvey

Overview

Markets were adopting a wait-and-see attitude in Asia ahead of speeches from central bankers, including one from the Federal Reserve’s Janet Yellen in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday, as oil prices got a boost from a tropical storm headed for the Texas coast.

Hot topic

Asia Pacific investors took their cues from Wall Street on Friday, keeping their powder dry ahead of the meeting in Jackson Hole. In New York, the S&P 500 slipped 0.2 per cent on Thursday while the Nasdaq Composite index edged 0.1 per cent lower.

In Hong Kong Li & Fung jumped as much as 19.9 per cent after reporting better than expected first-half earnings. The benchmark Hang Seng index was up 0.2 per cent.

In Tokyo convenience store chain FamilyMart Uni rose as much as 6.7 per cent after it announced it would ally with discount chain store Don Quijote, transferring holdings in its supermarket to the latter. The Topix index was up 0.2 per cent.

Stocks in Sydney were less buoyant, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3 per cent. Qantas Airways was up almost 1 per cent after dropping nearly 4 per cent at the outset on a fall in revenue from its international unit in the second half of its financial year.

Forex and fixed income

Foreign exchange moves were likewise limited, with the largest move coming from the Australian dollar — down 0.2 per cent against its American counterpart at $0.7889. The yen was off 0.1 per cent against the greenback at ¥109.62 per dollar.

The US currency was flat over all, however, with the dollar index tracking its performance against a basket of peers basically static at 93.302.

Yield, which moves opposite to price, on 10-year US Treasuries was flat at 2.1904 per cent after rising 3 basis points on Thursday following a threat by US President Donald Trump to shut down the government if it did not include funding for a wall along the Mexican border. He had previously promised the wall would be paid for by Mexico’s government.

Commodities

Crude oil prices were rising as Hurricane Harvey continued on its course toward Texas. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.6 per cent at $52.37 a barrel. US marker West Texas Intermediate was up the same amount at $47.73.

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