Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian shares traded mostly higher Wednesday, following President Donald Trump’s address to US lawmakers, which one analyst deemed “high on rhetoric and light on details.”
Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said the speech left markets a little “underwhelmed”, reports CNBC.
“I suspect…that most of what has been announced are already built into the price of the dollar today,” he said.
The dollar index climbed 0.58 per cent to 101.71 at 3:20pm HK/SIN Wednesday from an earlier low of 101.23.
Trump spoke on a variety of topics, including a recap of his efforts to develop a blueprint for corporate tax reform to increase America’s competitiveness while also providing tax relief for the middle class.
US futures were up Wednesday afternoon Asia time.
The S&P e-mini futures were up 0.21 per cent, the Nasdaq e-mini futures gained 0.17 per cent and the Dow mini futures were up 0.19 per cent.
Halley said the market’s attention will now turn to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who is scheduled to speak later in the week.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed up 274.55 points, or 1.44 per cent, at 19,393.54.
Japanese export stocks received a boost from a relatively weaker yen that traded at 113.64 to the dollar at 3:12pm HK/SIN after market close, weakening from levels below 112.20.
Among key exporters, Toyota shares rose 1.59 per cent, Sony shares were up 1.47 per cent and Panasonic added 2.6 per cent.
In Australia, the benchmark ASX 200 closed down 7.4 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5,704.8, where the energy sector fell 1.26 per cent.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the country’s fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.4 per cent annually, beating expectations of a 1.9 per cent increase by a Reuters poll.
Economists at the National Australia Bank said the solid economic momentum in the GDP figure will likely keep the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on the sidelines for much of 2017.
“While there is clearly spare capacity in labor and product markets, the RBA aims to balance its inflation and employment objectives against financial stability considerations, particularly given the surge in house prices in key markets in late 2016 amidst already high household debts,” the economists said.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.19 per cent in late-afternoon trade.
Chinese mainland shares closed up, with the Shanghai composite advancing 4.90 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 3,246.63, and the Shenzhen composite gained 7.54 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 2,008.86.
The South Korean market was 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 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.”
Among major currencies, the Australian dollar fell 0.18 percent to $0.7643 at 3:22pm HK/SIN; the euro was down 0.32 per cent at $1.0541; and the British pound was lower by 0.17 per cent at $1.2359.
The relatively strong dollar also pushed gold lower, with spot gold down 0.45 per cent at $1,242.90 per ounce.
That moved gold miners in Australia to the downside: Shares of Newcrest fell 1.4 per cent and Alacer Gold dropped 4.28 per cent.
Oil traded lower, with US crude down 0.3 per cent at $53.85 at 3:24pm HK/SIN, while global benchmark Brent slipped 0.23 per cent to $56.38 a barrel.