Asia mixed, as Kospi, Shanghai fall behind – CNBC

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Asia stocks traded mixed on Thursday, largely failing to follow U.S. equities’ advance in the wake of the release of the most recent Fed meeting minutes, which set a relatively dovish tone.

“The release of the Fed minutes overnight largely confirmed that there will not be a rate rise in April, and there’s little in the statement or recent U.S. data that pushes strongly for a rate rise in June either,” Angus Nicholson, market analyst at spreadbettor IG, said in a note Thursday.

“Initially, this news was greeted positively early in Asian trade, but the region’s concern soon returned to the impressive resurgence in the strength of the yen.”

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 wavered between positive and negative territory, edging up 0.09 percent at 1:00 p.m. SIN/HK time, after falling for the previous seven sessions as the yen strengthened.

Australia’s ASX 200 retraced some of the early gains to trade up 0.2 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi slipped 0.21 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was flat. Mainland Chinese markets lost ground, with the Shanghai composite lower by 0.76 percent and the Shenzhen composite off 0.59 percent.

Overnight, the Japanese yen surged against the dollar to levels not seen since October 2014. The dollar/yen pair traded at 109.01 as of 12:52 p.m. HK/SIN time, after briefly touching 108.99. That’s down from levels above 112 last week.

Major Japanese exporters traded lower. Shares of Toyota, Nissan, and Honda were off between 0.28 and 1.08 percent. The heavily weighted Fast Retailing sold off 3.45 percent, before being halted in the afternoon session ahead of its earnings release. Panasonic added 0.65 percent.

A stronger yen affects the profitability of major exporters as it reduces their overseas profits when converted into local currency.

Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, wrote in a note that despite the drop in the dollar/yen pair overnight, there have been no signs of the Bank of Japan in the market in an effort to weaken the currency. Lien said this is “worrisome because it suggests that their pain threshold for yen strength could be much higher.”

Asia mixed, as Kospi, Shanghai fall behind – CNBC}