HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets mostly fell Wednesday but Tokyo reversed early selling to add to the 10 per cent rally since the Bank of Japan’s surprise monetary easing announcement last week.
The Nikkei’s late advance came as the dollar hit a seven-year high against the yen in response to news Republicans had captured both houses of the US Congress and the head of the BoJ reasserted his determination to beat deflation.
Wall Street’s lead was neutral following a disappointing batch of economic indicators, while the euro edged up despite news that the European Commission had slashed its growth outlook for this year.
Tokyo added 0.44 per cent, or 74.85 points, to 16,937.32.
However, Seoul slipped 0.19 per cent, or 3.76 points, to 1,931.43 and Shanghai gave up 0.47 per cent, or 11.42 points, to 2,419.25. Sydney was flat, edging down 2.0 points to 5,517.9.
Hong Kong gave up 0.63 percent, or 150.04 points, to end at 23,695.62.
Japanese shares enjoyed a huge boost and the yen tumbled after the BoJ decision Friday, which will see vast sums of extra money pumped into the economy in a bid to tackle deflation and avert another recession.
Also fuelling the buying was news that the country’s public pension fund – the world’s biggest – will double the amount of equities in its investment portfolio.
While profit-taking pared some of the dollar’s and the Nikkei’s recent gains early Wednesday, news that Republicans had taken control of the Senate from Democrats sent both rising again.
Adding to yen-selling sentiment was a speech by BoJ boss Haruhiko Kuroda that indicated the bank was prepared to do whatever was needed to hit a 2.0 per cent inflation target by next year.
“In order to completely overcome the chronic disease of deflation, medicine should be taken until the end,” he said in Tokyo. “A half-baked medical treatment will only worsen the symptoms.”
The dollar – which stood at 113.57 yen early Wednesday in Tokyo – jumped to 114.37 yen in the afternoon, its highest since December 2007.
The euro was at 143.17 yen, against 142.61 yen earlier in the day.
The single currency was also at $1.2528 against $1.2545 in New York trade despite the European Commission’s decision to cut its eurozone 2014 growth forecast to 0.8 per cent from 1.2, and its 2015 estimate to 1.1 per cent from 1.7 per cent.
The focus is now on the European Central Bank’s next policy meeting later this week, with analysts looking for some guidance on its plans for kick-starting the economy.
US shares ended broadly lower Tuesday after the Commerce Department said new orders for manufactured goods fell and the trade deficit widened.
Analysts also said last week’s initial estimate of growth in the third quarter, which came in at 3.5 per cent, was likely overstated by as much as 0.4 percentage points, and that the current quarter would be slower.
The Dow edged up 0.09 per cent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.29 per cent and the Nasdaq slipped 0.33 per cent.
Oil prices extended their recent losses as dealers looked ahead to the release of the latest US supply report after a sell-off in the previous session owing to price cuts by Saudi Arabia.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery fell 49 cents to $76.70, while Brent crude for December fell 82 cents to $82.00 in afternoon trade.
WTI had dropped $1.59 in New York late Tuesday to hit its lowest closing point since October 2011, as dealers continued to digest Saudi Arabia’s move to cut its prices for crude sold to the US markets.
Brent had fallen $ê1.96 in London to its lowest close since October 2010.
Gold was $1,148.34 an ounce from ê1,169.98 late Tuesday.