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Asia Pacific Market: Stocks drop on Trump policies, political uncertainty in Europe
24-Feb-2017 (18:02)
Asia Pacific share market mostly lower on Friday, 24 February 2017, as lack of clarity over U.S. economic policies under President Donald Trump and political uncertainty in Europe weighed on sentiment. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.5%.

Investor risk sentiments were muted on following the lackluster cues from Wall Street overnight, after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed caution about the strength of the dollar and an uncertain outlook for U.S. economic stimulus. Mnuchin reportedly said in an interview that he expects U.S. interest rates to remain low for a long time, and expects significant tax reforms by President Donald Trump to be passed before Congress' August recess, slower than market expectations. Mnuchin's remarks came after Trump recently said he would introduce “phenomenal” tax reforms in a few weeks.

As Trump has promised a phenomenal plan by early March to cut business taxes, many investors expect more clarity when he delivers a speech to Congress on Tuesday.

Wednesday's Federal Reserve minutes, which showed that there was less urgency among voting members to raise interest rates, have helped to drive down US treasury yields and the dollar. The yield on 10-year US treasuries hit a two-week low of 2.372%.

Shares were also affected by uncertainty over the European political environment ahead of key elections in France and Germany.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed for the second straight day on Thursday as traders seemed somewhat reluctant to make significant moves amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following recent strength. While the Dow rose 34.72 points or 0.2% to 20,810.32 and the S&P 500 inched up 0.99 points or less than a tenth of a% to 2,363.81, the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 25.12 points or 0.4% to 5,835.51.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1%, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both dropped by 0.4%.

Oil futures rose Thursday after the U.S. Energy Information Agency reported a 600,000-barrel build in domestic crude oil inventories. WTI crude for April delivery rose 86 cents, or 1.6%, to close at $54.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Among Asian bourses

Australia Market ends down

Australian equity market ended down, following the lacklustre cues from Wall Street overnight, with materials and resources stocks leading retreat on sliding iron ore and copper prices. At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 45.70 points, or 0.79%, of 5,739, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 45.60 points, or 0.78%, to 5,786.90. The benchmark ended down 1.3% on the week.

Materials and resources stocks tumbled due to pullback in base metal and iron ore prices. China's iron ore futures slid nearly 5% and were headed for a weekly loss, coming off a rapid rally underpinned by expectations that strong infrastructure spending would spur steel demand in the world's top consumer. Copper prices also tumbled as worries about demand in China resurfaced after the country's housing minister suggested moves were afoot to stabilise the property market, while a firm dollar reinforced negative sentiment. BHP Billiton, the world's largest miner by market capitalisation, slumped 3% to A$25.06. Global miners Rio Tinto wilted 4.1% to A$62.88. Fortescue slumped 3.4% to A$6.57.

Financial stocks also took a beating, weighed down by the Big 4 banks. Commonwealth Bank of Australia dropped 0.6% to A$83.02, National Australia Bank 0.6% to A$31.90, Westpac 0.2% to A$34.09, and Australia & New Zealand Banking 0.7% to A$30.96.

Murray Goulburn plunged 5.6% as it swung to a half-year loss. Dairy processor reported a loss for the first half of the year on lower revenue and cuts its dividend, but expressed confidence for the outlook beyond the current financial year.

Cabcharge was up 6.6% to A$3.86 after reporting a A$106.75 million loss. Underlying net profit after tax was A$12.2 million and the company announced a special 80 cent dividend on top of the interim payout of 10 cents a share.

Nikkei falls on strong yen

The Japan share market settled down for third straight trading session, as risk sentiments weighed down by the yen's strength against greenback after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed caution about the strength of the dollar, while an uncertain outlook for U.S. economic stimulus weighed on investor sentiment. Shares were also affected by uncertainty over the European political environment ahead of key elections in France and Germany. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 87.92 points, or 0.45%. The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended down 87.92 points, or 0.45%, to 19,283.54. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 6.11 points, or 0.39%, lower at 1,550.14.

Shares of export-oriented issues such as carmakers and electronics manufacturers tumbled as the yen's appreciated against the U.S. dollar, with Toyota Motor falling 0.8% to 6,448 yen, Hitachi shedding 0.2% to 633 yen, and Sony declining 0.8% to 3,486 yen. A stronger yen hurts the profitability of Japan's major exporters and tends to dent demand for their shares. Market heavyweight Fast Retailing, operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain, slipped 0.28% to 35,180 yen and mobile carrier SoftBank, another heavyweight, dropped 0.48% to 8,600 yen.

Shares of insurers and banks dropped, tracking lower bond yields in the U.S. and Japan. So-called cyclical stocks, which had benefited from the prospect of U.S. fiscal stimulus, stronger U.S. growth and a higher dollar, were hurt by some profit-taking. Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. fell 1.4% to 2,175.0 yen. Major bank Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. lost 0.9% to 4,168 yen. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. dropped 0.8% to 758.4 yen despite news that the company will move into online retail banking in the U.S. to boost dollar deposits.

Issues that had rallied on expectations for Trump's fiscal stimulus also dropped. Construction machinery maker Komatsu fell 5.4% to 2,710.5 yen. Steel maker JFE Holdings Inc. dropped 2.1% to 2,156 yen. Taiheiyo Cement was down 3.7% at 391 yen, and Mitsui Mining and Smelting decreased 3.6% to 370 yen.

Toshiba Corp. remained volatile, ending up 4.1% at 223.9 yen after falling 4.3% on Thursday and jumping 22% on Wednesday. The rebound came after a news report said it may place its loss-hit US nuclear arm Westinghouse Electric into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Separately, Toshiba said it was ready to spin off a majority stake in its prized memory chip business -- seen as critical to raising cash and repairing its battered balance sheet.

China Stocks close flat

Mainland China stock market closed virtually flat after reversing initial losses, as reform hopes continued to support risk appetite buying. Sector performance was mixed, with gains were led by logistics and transport stocks, while losses were led by material stocks. The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 0.1% to 3,253.4. The large-cap CSI 300 Index rose 0.02% to 3,473.9, the Shenzhen Component Index gained 0.1% to 10,443.7, and the Nasdaq-like ChiNext increased 0.7% to 1,938.4. For the week, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.6%, extending its rising trend for the third consecutive week.

S.F. Holding, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Wang Wei, surged by the 10% trade limit to a near four-month high, surpassing China Vanke and Midea Group to become the largest stock by market value on Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Shares in SF Express, mainland China's largest express delivery company, soared by their daily limit of 10% to 55.2 yuan in Shenzhen in their debut trading after a back door listing through a reverse takeover of a listed rare earth trader.

The Chinese currency renminbi, or yuan, was firmed up against the U.S. dollar even after the People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate stronger. The People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.8655 per dollar prior to market open, firmer than the previous fix of 6.8695. The spot market opened at 6.8718 per dollar and was changing hands at 6.8705 at midday, 30 pips stronger than the previous late session close and 0.07% weaker than the midpoint.

Hong Kong Stocks falls on profit booking

The Hong Kong stock market closed down on Friday, 24 February 2017, dragged down by profit-taking, which offset a rally in telecommunication and aviation stocks. The Hang Seng Index closed 0.6% lower at 23,965.7, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index ended 1% lower to 10,418.7. Total turnover on the main board decreased slightly to HK$80.4 billion from HK$81.8 billion on Thursday. For the week, the index lost 0.3%.

The northbound quota balance of the Shanghai-HK Connect program was RMB12.637 billion, accounting for 97.2% of the daily allowed quota of RMB13 billion. The southbound quota balance was RMB9.937 billion, accounting for 94.6% of the daily allowed quota of RMB10.5 billion.

As for the Shenzhen-HK Connect, the northbound quota balance was RMB12.421 billion, accounting for 95.5% of the daily allowed quota of RMB13 billion. The southbound quota balance was RMB10.131 billion, accounting for 96.5% of the daily allowed quota of RMB10.5 billion.

China Unicom was the best performing blue chip, with its shares up 2.9% to HK$9.6, their best level since December 9 after a state-controlled newspaper, citing officials, reported that the telecom sector is the key target for mixed ownership reform.

Aviation stocks also gained strength. Beijing Capital International Airport jumped 4.9% to HK$8.4 while China Eastern Airlines rose 4% to HK$4.5.

Apple parts suppliers followed the retreat of the US tech giant on Wall Street overnight. AAC Technologies, the acoustic component manufacturer which works with Apple, was the biggest loser on the Hang Seng Index, sinking 4.7% to HK$82.8. Sunny Optical Technology, which supplies dual cameras for Apple's iPhone 7 Plus, fell 5.6% to HK$50.

AIA Group shares were down 0.6% to HK$48.8, despite better-than-expected annual results and dividend payment. The insurer announced 25% growth in the value of new business for 2016, based on actual exchange rates, and declared a 25% increase in final dividend.

Esprit (00330) soared 7.4% to HK$7.29 after Deutsche Bank's rating and target price upgrade. The research house raised its target price for Esprit Holdings (00330) to HK$5.83 from HK$5.48, and upgraded its rating to hold from sell. Esprit Holdings (00330) on Wednesday, 22 February 2017, released earning results, showing its profit attributable to shareholders of HK$61 million for the six months ended 31 December 2016, as compared to the loss of HK$238 million for the same period last year. The revenue was HK$8,323 million, a decrease of 10.6% from a year earlier. The Group's gross profit fell 7% year-on-year to HK$4,371 million, which results in gross profit margin of 52.5%, representing a yoy increase of 2 percentage points.

Indian stock market shut on account of Mahashivratri

Indian stock markets remains shut today, 24 February 2017 on account of Mahashivratri.

Indian stock market logged small gains on Thursday, 23 February 2017. The barometer index, the S&P BSE Sensex, gained 28.26 points or 0.1% to settle at 28,892.97. The Nifty 50 index rose 12.60 points or 0.14% to settle at 8,939.50. Shares of index heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) fell on profit booking. Telecom shares rose after Bharti Airtel said it will acquire Telenor India. IT stocks reversed yesterday's slide. Bank stocks saw mixed trend.

Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region: New Zealand's NZX50 was down 0.4% to 7058.58. South Korea's KOSPI index dropped 0.64% to 2094.12. Taiwan's Taiex index fell 0.2% to 9750.47. Malaysia's KLCI shed 0.36% to 1698.35. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index added 0.24% to 5385.91. Singapore's Straits Times index slid 0.65% to 3117.03.

Hong Kong Stocks falls on profit booking
24-Feb-2017 (18:01)
China Stocks close flat
24-Feb-2017 (18:00)
Nikkei falls on strong yen
24-Feb-2017 (17:59)
Australia Market ends down
24-Feb-2017 (17:58)
Australia Miner weighs down stocks
24-Feb-2017 (17:43)
Asia Pacific Market: Stocks gain on positive offshore cues
22-Feb-2017 (18:07)
Australia Market ends up
22-Feb-2017 (18:06)
Nikkei ends flat
22-Feb-2017 (18:05)
China Stocks close near 3-month peak
22-Feb-2017 (18:04)
Hong Kong Stocks ends near 18-1/2-month high
22-Feb-2017 (18:04)
Strong finish for US stocks
22-Feb-2017 (10:55)
Asia Pacific Market: Equities extend gains
21-Feb-2017 (18:18)
Hong Kong: Stocks fall, HSBC tumbles after profit slump
21-Feb-2017 (18:14)
China Stocks close near 3-month peak
21-Feb-2017 (18:05)
Nikkei settles up
21-Feb-2017 (18:04)
Australia Market ends nudge lower
21-Feb-2017 (18:04)
Asia Pacific Market: Stocks trade higher
20-Feb-2017 (17:35)
Hong Kong Stocks hit 18-month high
20-Feb-2017 (17:33)
China Stocks gains on pension fund reports
20-Feb-2017 (17:32)
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