Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian markets opened mostly lower on Monday, as investors await further details from President Donald Trump on his economic policies, including tax reforms.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.57 per cent as the yen strengthened against the dollar to trade at 112.94, climbing from levels below 114.4 in the previous week, reports CNBC.
A stronger yen generally weighs on export-oriented stocks in Japan as it affects their overseas profit margins when funds are converted to the local currency.
Earlier, Japan said exports rose 1.3 per cent in January from a year earlier, Reuters reported, showing a slowdown from the previous month due to a decline in US exports and the Chinese New Year holidays for a less than a 4.7 per cent increase expected by economists.
The trade balance came to a deficit of 1.09 trillion yen ($9.66 billion), versus the median estimate for a 636.8 billion yen deficit.
Among exporters, Sony fell 0.73 per cent, Honda was off 0.36 per cent and Canon shed 0.70 per cent.
Softbank shares added 2.82 per cent after Reuters reported the company was willing to give up control of Sprint to T-Mobile US to secure a merger between the two telecoms.
Across the Korean Strait, South Korea’s Kospi index was down 0.09 per cent.
Australia’s shares fell 0.33 per cent, with the industrials subindex falling 1.70 per cent, while the heavily weighted financials subindex was flat.
WorleyParsons shares dropped 11.26 per cent after the company reported a fiscal first-half net loss of 2.4 million Australian dollars, compared with a profit of A$23.1 million in the year-earlier period.
“President Trump promised a ‘phenomenal’ tax announcement in 2-3 weeks, so as the clock ticks down to some form of announcement, market inertia is set to reign,” said Ray Attrill, global co-head of foreign exchange strategy at the National Australia Bank, in a note.
Attrill explained that was the impression markets conveyed on Friday, but also acknowledged the absence of market-moving data. “US equities recouped early session losses to end Friday slightly in the black and the US dollar tracked equities higher despite a fall in US yields.”
US markets are closed on Monday for a public holiday.
Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan said markets were grappling with what he called the “Donald Disconnect” — which he defined as “bets on economic rebound without accompanying reflations.”
The optimism in markets, Varathan said, was driven by expectations of tax reforms, deregulation and infrastructure capex, which fueled equity markets but did not invoke higher US yields and an accompanying surge in the dollar.
On Monday morning at 8:12am HK/SIN, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 100.84, up from levels around 100.62 from Friday afternoon Asia time.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar traded at $0.7661, while the euro was at $1.0619.