Asian markets mixed, yen tumbles

Asian shares were mixed on Friday following another record close on Wall Street, while the yen tumbled against the euro and the dollar.

File photo: The Tokyo Stock Exchange.

File photo: The Tokyo Stock Exchange.

HONG KONG: Asian shares were mixed on Friday following another record close on Wall Street, while the yen tumbled against the euro and the dollar.

The yen sank further in Asia as speculation of more Bank of Japan monetary easing weighed on the unit, while upbeat US data supported the greenback.

Tokyo closed flat, edging up 4.50 points to 16,178.94, while Seoul gained 0.15 percent or 2.98 points to 2,002.28. Sydney also ended flat, slipping 0.06 percent or 3.1 points to 5,324.1.

In afternoon trade, Chinese shares climbed 1.72 percent while Hong Kong gained 0.38 percent.

Late buying pushed Tokyo’s Nikkei back into positive territory, while a weaker yen also boosted the market.

The dollar was trading around five-year highs in Tokyo, buying 104.77 yen against 104.82 yen in New York Thursday.

The US unit briefly topped the 105 yen mark earlier Friday, its highest since October 2008.

“Yen-selling pressure appears strong. It would be no surprise to see the dollar rise to 110 yen in the January-March quarter,” Yosuke Hosokawa, a dealer at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, told Dow Jones Newswires.

In upbeat news, new data published Friday showed that Japan’s war on deflation got a boost last month as consumer inflation rose 1.2 percent — its fastest pace in five years.

The euro also jumped past five-year highs to 143.88 yen from 143.51 yen in US trade while it fetched $1.3733 from $1.3692.

On Thursday US stock markets continued their bull run of 2013 and positive unemployment figures offered more evidence of a firming economy.

The Dow shot up 0.75 percent to 16,479.88, finishing at a record high for the sixth straight session. The S&P 500 added 0.47 percent to 1,842.02, while the Nasdaq increased 0.28 percent to 4,167.18.

The latest record came after US Labour Department data showed first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to 338,000 from an adjusted 380,000 the previous week. Analysts had projected that 350,000 claims would be filed.

Other better-than-expected economic news in recent days has increased confidence in the US outlook after the Federal Reserve announced on December 18 it was scaling back its massive bond-buying programme.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up six cents at $99.61 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for February eased 24 cents to $111.74.

Gold fetched $1,214.00 at 0655 GMT compared with $1,205.50 late Thursday.

In other markets:

— Taipei climbed 0.58 percent, or 49.15 points, to 8,535.04.

Hon Hai rose 0.76 percent to Tw$79.9 while TSMC was 0.48 percent higher at Tw$104.5.

— Wellington ended flat, slipping 0.58 points to 4,767.36.

Fletcher Building dropped 2.29 percent to NZ$8.52 and Air New Zealand gained 1.54 percent to NZ$1.645.

Source AFP