Asia Markets: Asian markets continue their early-year rally

Asian stocks continued their start-of-year rally Tuesday, though Japanese equities pulled back late morning after the Bank of Japan trimmed the size of its bond-repurchase offer in its latest market operation.

The 5% reduction to ¥190 billion ($1.7 billion) of bonds maturing in 10-to-25 years was a sign of slight policy tightening by the central bank, and sent the yen jumping. A stronger currency often hurts Japanese stock prices. The dollar JPYUSD, +0.434269%   was recently at ¥112.55, versus ¥113.15 earlier.

The Nikkei NIK, +0.62%   was up 0.4% ahead of the midday break after earlier rising 1%, as the market reopened following a three-day weekend and investors caught up to Monday’s stock gains in Asia.

And while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.28%   set fresh 10-year highs Tuesday, gains were modest elsewhere.

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.11%   gained 0.4% even as Samsung Electronics 005930, -2.00%   fell 1.7% after projecting weaker-than-forecast fourth-quarter results. Still, the company will post its best-ever quarterly earnings.

But Taiwan’s Taiex index Y9999, -0.14%   eased from Monday’s fresh 28-year high, dropping 0.1% as index heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, -0.62%   cooled 0.6%.

With a number of stock indexes in Asia Pacific having started 2018 with a series of multiyear and record highs, one market to watch Tuesday is Hong Kong. There, the Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.37%   will seek to match 1999’s record 11-day winning streak. It’s logged five 10-day runs since, including the current one.

While regional stock gains aren’t likely to be as strong as last year, 2018’s advance is still expected to be substantial in dollar terms, said Rob Carnell, head of research for Asia at ING. He said 2017’s performance was boosted by modest prior gains. “I am really struggling to find any bad news at the moment.”

Away from stocks, oil futures have added to Monday’s rebound in Asian trading. The U.S. benchmark was recently up 0.7% and the global Brent contract gained 0.5% as crude prices have been at three-year highs.

And bitcoin BTCUSD, +2.95%   has maintained its rebound to $15,000, according to CoinDesk, after the cryptocurrency fell Monday, from $16,000 to $14,000.

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