Asian markets mixed, dollar rises to five-year high


HONG KONG: Asian shares were mixed Thursday with Tokyo extending its gains following a record close on Wall Street in pre-holiday trade, while the dollar rose to a five-year high against the yen.

The greenback rose to 104.85 yen in early trade—its highest since October 2008—before settling at 104.71 yen, compared with 104.39 yen Wednesday in Tokyo. New York was closed for the Christmas holiday.

Tokyo closed up 1.03 percent, or 164.45 points, at 16,174.44, the best finish since November 2007. Seoul slid 0.11 percent,  or 2.29 points, to 1,999.30 while Shaxnghai dropped 1.58 percent, or 33.25 points, to 2,073.10.

Financial markets in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand were closed for a public holiday.

Tokyo shares enjoyed a tailwind from the yen’s weakening on the back of continued monetary easing steps by the Bank of Japan, said Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management.

“The risk-taking sentiment is buoyant,” Okumura told Dow Jones Newswires.

But the market showed a hint of caution as hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead including several high-level officials executed for war crimes after World War II.

South Korea and China see it as a symbol of Tokyo’s unrepentance and a misguided view of its own past.

On Tuesday US stocks closed at a new all-time high before the Christmas break, following solid reports on durable goods and new home sales.

The news followed a recent run of figures showing a pick-up in the US economy and the Federal Reserve announcement that it would from next month reduce its stimulus program by $10 billion to $75 billion a month.

The euro bought $1.3679 and 143.27 yen against $1.3668 and 142.71 yen on Wednesday in Tokyo.

In oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up 13 cents at $99.35 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for February gained 17 cents to $112.07.

Gold fetched $1,205.90 at 0855 GMT compared with $1,195.04 late Monday.



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