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Capital Markets

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Categorized | Currencies

Equities continue climb, ringgit slides ahead of policy meeting

Posted on November 23, 2016

Asian equities continue to rally on Wednesday after Wall Street notched up another set of record highs overnight, while the US dollar is trading flat.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average deserves a mention for closing above 19,000 points for the first time, while its peer US stock indices again closed at record highs. Monday was the first time since 1999 the Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and small cap Russell 2000 simultaneously closed at record highs.

But the Australian dollar is the one of the big movers, up 0.3 per cent at $0.7425. The currency shrugged off data showing the value of construction work done during the September quarter fell at its fastest quarterly pace in 16 years, and instead rallied as a survey of Chinese business conditions showed continued improvement in November.

Japan’s benchmark Topix was up 0.3 per cent, as was the price-focused Nikkei 225. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 1 per cent, led by mining stocks, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.5 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.2 per cent but the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite was flat.

Apart from the Australian dollar, Malaysia’s ringgit is the other big mover today, sitting 0.4 per cent weaker against the dollar at its lowest level since September 2015. This comes ahead of this afternoon’s policy meeting from the country’s central bank. The recent slide in the currency, which has prompted Bank Negara Malaysia to play down fears it might have to introduce capital controls, has dulled the prospect of the central bank cutting interest rates today.

The dollar index, a measure of the US currency against a basket of peers, was fractionally lower at 101, while the Japanese yen was fractionally stronger at ¥‎111.09 per dollar

After strong gains at the start of the week on renewed hopes Opec members will agree to a supply cut at a meeting later this month, oil prices have cooled. Gains were tempered in New York on Tuesday, and in Asia today Brent crude was up 0.1 per cent at $49.13 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate was flat at $48.02.