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Asian markets flat as Macron momentum fades

Tuesday 02:50 BST

Overview

Stocks around Asia were mostly lower following a flat lead from Wall Street and as momentum after the French presidential election faded.

Hot topic

Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist, was elected France’s president in the country’s election at the weekend, beating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Although Mr Macron’s victory was a cause for relief in markets and is seen as a broad positive for European stocks and the single currency, it was widely expected, and moves in stocks and currencies were muted.

France’s benchmark CAC 40 opened at a nine-year high but ended 0.9 per cent lower on Monday while German stocks dropped 0.2 per cent and London’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.1 per cent.

The euro was flat in Asia at $1.0928 after dropping 0.7 per cent on Monday from a six-month high.

Equities

The Topix was down 0.2 per cent, easing after a 2.3 per cent jump the previous day as Japan’s markets reopened after a five-day long weekend. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.3 per cent, while China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.5 per cent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.5 per cent, with large declines among the heavyweight banks offsetting gains for materials and energy stocks. Commonwealth Bank dropped as much as 2.9 per cent after the country’s biggest lender reported a third-quarter profit in line with analyst estimates, but revealed a decline in its net interest margin — a closely watched indicator of profitability.

On Monday, the S&P 500 closed flat in New York.

Forex

The Australian dollar was the worst performing major currency after data showed retail sales in the country fell 0.1 per cent in March from the previous month, weaker than expectations for 0.3 per cent growth, and with the previous month’s fall being revised lower to 0.2 per cent. The Aussie was down 0.2 per cent at a four-month low of $0.7369.

The Japanese yen was flat at ¥113.21 per dollar. The dollar index, a measure of the US currency against a basket of peers, was up 0.1 per cent at 99.107.

Commodities

Oil prices continued to recover after a sharp drop last week, aided by assurances on Monday from Saudi Arabia that Opec is determined to end the supply glut.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.3 per cent at $49.48 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate was up 0.3 per cent at $46.58.

Gold was up 0.2 per cent at $1,228.20 an ounce.

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