Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian markets were mostly higher Wednesday morning, shrugging off modest US losses from Tuesday, as traders focused on President Donald Trump’s address to the US Congress.
Trump is giving his first address to a joint session of Congress, where the market will be listening closely for clues or details regarding the administration’s plans on tax reform, deregulation and other proposed policies, reports CNBC.
“Markets are hungry for detail on the new Administration’s economic policy but at the end of the day will probably be prepared to settle for a confident outlining of the general agenda at this stage,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 traded up 0.67 per cent, retracing some of its earlier gains of more than 1.2 per cent, while the Topix added 0.55 per cent.
Japanese export stocks received a boost from a relatively weaker yen that traded at 113.10 to the dollar at 10:11 a.m. HK/SIN, weakening from levels below 112.20.
Among key exporters, Toyota shares rose 1.16 per cent, Sony shares were up 0.89 per cent and Panasonic added 1.18 per cent.
In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 was down 0.17 per cent where major banking stocks reversed early trade losses — ANZ shares added 0.71 per cent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia was up 0.4 per cent, Westpac gained 0.45 per cent and the National Australia Bank gained 0.19 per cent.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the country’s fourth quarter gross domestic product grew 2.4 per cent annually, beating expectations of a 1.9 per cent increase by a Reuters poll.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.19 per cent.
Chinese mainland shares traded up, with the Shanghai composite advancing 0.34 per cent and the Shenzhen composite up by 0.54 per cent.
The South Korean market is closed for a public holiday.
Meanwhile, the possibility of a Fed interest rate hike in March gained further momentum on Tuesday when New York Fed President William Dudley said on CNN International that the “case for monetary tightening has become more compelling.”
Dudley is viewed as a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen and is a central figure in the Federal Open Market Committee.
“Through its recent communication, the Fed is sending a strong signal for a March hike,” said Thomas Julien, a US economist at French investment bank Natixis.
“As a result, the implied market probability surged to a level that is high enough to allow the Fed to move at the next meeting without creating a surprise.”
The dollar index climbed to 101.39 at 10:20am HK/SIN on Wednesday, up from levels near 100.8 earlier in the week, on the back of Dudley’s comments.
Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, said, “Fed speak has been very consistent and it’s only a matter of time before the dollar responds appropriately.”
But, she said, the greenback wasn’t out of the woods yet, suggesting that Trump’s speech to Congress could potentially derail the currency.
Among major currencies, the Australian dollar climbed 0.24 per cent to $0.7675; the euro was flat at $1.0575; and the British pound was up 0.11 at $1.2393.
The relatively strong dollar also pushed gold lower, with spot gold down 0.19 percent at $1,246.21 per ounce.
That pushed gold miners in Australia lower — shares of Newcrest fell 1.67 per cent, Evolution Mining was down 0.46 per cent and Alacer Gold dropped 2.72 per cent.