Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asia markets traded mixed Thursday morning, despite US gains as stocks closed at fresh highs for a fifth-straight day despite US overnight gains with Toshiba shares down anew.
In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average traded down 0.62 per cent in morning trade, reports CNBC.
Toshiba shares continued their decline on Thursday, falling 3.29 per cent after the market open.
In the previous session, prices fell more than 8 per cent amid mounting troubles.
Reuters, citing sources, reported Toshiba may delay the sale of its prized flash-memory chip unit as it scrambles for cash to stay in business, after booking a massive multi-billion dollar hit to its US nuclear unit.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi gave up early gains to trade down 0.13 per cent.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index advanced 0.36 per cent, while Chinese mainland markets also saw gains.
The Shanghai composite was up 0.26 per cent, while the Shenzhen composite added 0.50 per cent.
Australia’s ASX 200 traded down 0.05 per cent, giving up early gains of near 0.3 per cent.
In regional company news, Singapore’s top lender DBS Group said Thursday that net profit in the fourth quarter of 2016 fell nearly 9 per cent from a year ago to S$913 million.
DBS shares advanced 0.77 per cent.
Views on US interest rates were also in focus as New York Fed President William Dudley said Wednesday that a rate hike could come soon.
“We expect to gradually remove further monetary policy accommodation and snug up interest rates a little bit further in the months ahead,” Dudley said.
The Fed has forecast as many as three rate hikes this year, with March the next meeting of the policymaking committee.
Overnight, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified in front of Congress for the second straight day on Wednesday, where she acknowledged the economy was weak, but Fed policies have helped and the economy is close to achieving the Fed’s goals on employment and inflation.
On Tuesday, Yellen lifted market expectations for a March rate hike after saying it would be “unwise” for the Fed to wait too long.
“What’s most important here is that the market is just so comfortable with a somewhat hawkish Fed and we can even go as far as saying hawkish commentary is now being taken as an equity positive,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at spreadbettor IG, in a note.
In the currency market, the dollar slipped against a basket of currencies to trade at 100.96 as of 11:10am HK/SIN, down from levels above 101.50 in the previous session.
The yen strengthened against the greenback to trade at 113.82, climbing from the last close at 114.15.
The stronger yen sent Japanese exporters lower, with major automakers in the red.
Toyota shares fell 1.09 per cent, Nissan was down 0.67 per cent and Honda fell 1.43 per cent.
Electronics maker Sony dropped 0.92 per cent.
Elsewhere, the euro fetched $1.0614 and the Australian dollar was at $0.7709.
Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said in a note the dollar’s decline against major currencies was likely a surprise to many, “considering the strength of the latest US economic reports, the new highs in US stocks and rise in Treasury yields.”
Lien said the loss of momentum in the dollar likely came from an “unexpected decline in industrial production” and Yellen’s remarks on the economy.
“Investors latched onto these words even though she spent more of her Congressional testimony talking about solid consumer spending, and the pickup in business and consumer confidence,” she said.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 107.45 points, or 0.52 per cent, at 20,611.86.
The S&P 500 index closed up 11.67 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 2,349.25, while the Nasdaq gained 36.87 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 5,819.44.