Asian markets take breather after oil-fuelled rally


HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly turned lower Tuesday as profit-taking overshadoweda healthy lead from Wall Street, while the pound fell after 22 people were killed in a terror blast in Manchester.

Global stocks had rallied Monday, with energy firms benefiting from a surge in oil prices as OPEC and Russia look set to extend an output cut, while US dealers welcomed an optimistic survey on US manufacturing.

But crude was unable to sustain gains Tuesday and this weighed on petroleum-linked firms before a meeting between OPEC and Russia later in the week.

With Donald Trump on his first overseas trip, the political crisis that drove huge losses last week has calmed for now.

However, the Washington Post reported that the president had asked two top intelligence officials in March to help push back against an FBI probe into his campaign’s possible links with Russia.

Markets were hammered in the middle of last week on fears about Trump’s economy-boosting agenda, with his presidency engulfed in a crisis over his firing of FBI chief James Comey and allegations he disclosed sensitive intelligence to Russian officials.

Hong Kong closed up 0.1 percent, Shanghai slipped 0.5 percent and Sydney eased 0.2 percent while Tokyo ended 0.3 percent down. However, Seoul and Singapore each added 0.3 percent.

Pound slips
In early European trade London fell 0.1 percent, while Paris and Frankfurt each eased 0.2 percent

On foreign exchanges the pound fell to $1.2971 from almost $1.30 late in New York after police said 22 people had been killed outside a concert in Manchester on Monday night. The uncertainty also saw safe-haven assets rise, with the yen and gold both rising.

The attack, the worst in Britain since London bombers killed 52 people in 2005, reawakened concerns about terror and geopolitical worries.

“Trump risk and geopolitical concern triggered by the UK news this morning is making the market prone to risk-aversion moves,” Ayako Sera, a market strategist with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News. “The biggest thing, nevertheless, is the wariness over suspicion surrounding Trump and Russia.”

Traders are now awaiting the release this week of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, hoping for some clarity on its plans for raising interest rates in light of recent disappointing US data. A number of board members will also be speaking.

There was little initial movement from the release of Trump’s 2018 budget, which proposes billions of dollars in spending cuts over the next 10 years and increased military spending.



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