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Categorized | Currencies

Asia markets tentative ahead of Opec meeting


Posted on November 30, 2016

Wednesday 2.30am GMT

Overview

Markets across Asia were treading cautiously on Wednesday, following mild overnight gains for Wall Street, a weakening of the US dollar and as investors turned their attention to a meeting between Opec members later today.

What to watch

Oil prices are in focus ahead of Wednesday’s Opec meeting in Vienna. The crude market has been volatile this week — rising 2 per cent on Monday and falling nearly 4 per cent on Tuesday — on the fluctuating hopes that big producers will agree to curb output and help correct the state of oversupply in the market.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.4 per cent in Asia at $46.55 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate added 0.4 per cent to $45.43.

Equities

Weakness in the yen overnight has given Japanese stocks a slight boost, with the Topix benchmark up 0.2 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.3 per cent, weighed down by materials and energy stocks after the drop in commodity prices on Tuesday.

Among individual shares, Samsung Electronics was up 3.9 per cent at a record high in Seoul a day after the company said it would boost its 2016 dividend and consider restructuring in an effort to allay investor concerns about its excess cash and poor corporate governance. Its shares closed flat on Tuesday, however.

Forex

The US dollar index closed 0.4 per cent lower on Tuesday despite data showing that the US economy grew a better than expected 3.2 per cent year-on-year in the September quarter. It was flat in Asia at 100.94 and facing a fourth straight day of declines.

The yen was 0.1 per cent stronger at ¥112.29 per dollar, having weakened 0.4 per cent in the previous session.

The New Zealand dollar was the big gainer among Asian currencies, up 0.4 per cent against the greenback after the country’s finance minister said it seemed interest rates there had “hit a floor”, although he did not see a situation in which rates would rise sharply.

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