Asia markets higher as investors eye the inter-Korean Summit; Bank of Japan stays on hold
by Admin |
Asia markets traded mostly higher on Friday, as investors watched for developments from the Korean peninsula. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the inter-Korean Summit for talks.
That session followed after Wall Street saw gains, helped by strong quarterly results from some of the biggest U.S. companies.
In Australia, the ASX 200 rose 0.29 percent in afternoon trade, with most sectors gaining. Energy and materials were up 0.29 percent and 0.51 percent, respectively. The heavily weighted financial sector, however, fell 0.65 percent as major banking names stumbled.
Shares of Commonwealth Bank declined 1.41 percent, ANZ was down 0.9 percent, Westpac fell by 0.92 percent and the National Australia Bank slipped 0.74 percent.
Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.42 percent and the Topix index added 0.14 percent.
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) kept its monetary policy on hold, leaving short-term interest rate target at minus 0.1 percent. The central bank said it will purchase Japanese government bonds so that the yield on the 10-year note will remain at around zero percent.
It removed mentions of a time-frame by which it planned to achieve its 2 percent price stability target.
In its economic activity and prices outlook report, the central bank said risks were "skewed to the downside for fiscal 2019 onward." It expects Japan's economy to expand in fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020, supported by external demand. It said the growth pace was projected to decelerate and reflect a slowdown in domestic demand.
Two new deputy governors made their debut at the latest BOJ meeting,according to Reuters — Masayoshi Amamiya , a career central banker, and former academic Masazumi Wakatabe, a vocal advocate of aggressive easing. They both voted in favor of keeping the monetary policy on hold.
Chinese mainland markets were mixed, with the Shanghai composite down 0.44 percent. The Shenzhen composite rose 0.22 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent.
In South Korea, the Kospi trimmed early gains of more than 1 percent to gain 0.4 percent.
Elsewhere, the dollar stayed above the 91.00 level against a basket of major currencies. The dollar index traded at 91.515 as of 11:19 a.m. HK/SIN, dropping from an earlier session high of 91.625.
The Japanese yen traded at 109.21 to the greenback, weakening from an earlier level of 109.13, and the Australian dollar was at $0.7553.
The euro traded at $1.2111 on Friday morning Asia time. Overnight, the European Central Bank held interest rates steady amid signs the euro area's growth outlook may have softened.
Oil prices rose overnight amid concerns over geopolitical developments, particularly concerns about Iran.
A top advisor to Iran's supreme leader said Tehran would not accept any change to the 2015 nuclear deal, Reuters reported. The news wire said Western signatories to the agreement were preparing a new package to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to stick with the accord.
Trump will decide by May 12 whether to restore sanctions on Iran that could result in a reduction of Iranian oil exports, according to Reuters.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he expects the U.S. to withdraw from the Iran deal in the coming weeks. He described the reversal of American policy on international agreements, including Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, as "insane."