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Asia Market Update

Equity markets lacked direction in Asia on Wednesday, as was the case overnight in the U.S., though Australian stocks outperformed on strong gains among the country’s biggest banks.

Markets are expected to remain in narrow ranges ahead of policy statements from the European and Japanese central banks, due Thursday. Some investors are avoiding aggressive trading as a result.

But Australia’s stock benchmark rebounded some from Tuesday’s 1.2% slide, rising as much as 1% as the country’s “big four” banks jumped some 3%. Even though the country’s biggest regulator boosted capital requirements, the firms have until the start of 2020 to reach the new targets, easing near-term fears of capital raisings which could dilute current shareholders.

The banks’ big stock gains came after a rough several months for the sector amid disappointing earnings and regulatory developments. The S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.67%   was recently up 0.6%.

Moves were much more muted elsewhere in the region.

The Nikkei Stock Average NIK, +0.04%   was flat amid a steadied yen and as questions swirl around U.S. policy direction. Meanwhile, Korea’s Kospi index SEU, -0.18%   eased 0.1%, Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, +0.45%   rose 0.1% and the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP, +0.80%   was up 0.2%

Technology stocks were up across the region, buoyed by the Nasdaq Composite’s first record close in six weeks on Tuesday. In tech hub Taiwan, Largan 3008, +2.39%  , Au Optronics 2409, +0.40%   and HTC 2498, +0.14%   were all up around 1%.

The U.S. dollar, which overshadowed Asian stock trading on Tuesday on the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and helped lead to declines in Australian and Japanese stocks, was little changed Wednesday morning.

“The market’s patience in the U.S. government is truly being tested,” analysts at ANZ Research said. “The failure of Congress to vote to repeal and replace Obamacare puts tax reform and fiscal expenditure plans at risk.”

In commodities, oil prices eased some in Asia, dropping 0.3% after the American Petroleum Institute said its data showed that U.S. crude inventories rose 1.6 million barrels last week. That is contrary to what analysts expect out of Wednesday’s government report, a drop of some 3 million.

Source: marketwatch.com

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