Asian markets mixed after G20 talks
HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets were mixed Monday, with Tokyo surging thanks to a weakening yen after a weekend G20 meeting ended without accusing Japan of orchestrating a recent slide in its currency.
The Japanese unit resumed its downward trend as dealers welcomed the end of the Moscow talks, which came amid concerns that Japan’s new aggressive monetary policy could spark a currency war.
Tokyo climbed 2.09 per cent, or 234.04 points, to 11,407.87 and Sydney added 0.59 per cent, or 29.5 points, to end at 5,063.4, around highs not seen for about four-and-a-half years thanks to strong corporate results.
Seoul was flat, edging up 0.73 points to 1,981.91.
However, Hong Kong eased 0.27 per cent, or 62.62 points, to 23,381.94, while Shanghai, returning after a week-long Lunar New Year break, fell 0.45 per cent, or 10.84 points, to 2,421.56.
The G20 finance ministers’ statement issued Saturday said: “We will refrain from competitive devaluation,” adding “we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes”.
The BoJ, under pressure from Japan’s new conservative government, last month unveiled a plan for unlimited monetary easing and a target for two per cent inflation as part of a bid to beat lingering deflation.
However, the moves sparked charges of manipulation, particularly in Europe, with some warning of a currency war in which nations weaken their units in a bid to boost exports.
In foreign exchange trade the dollar strengthened to 94.02 yen, from 93.53 yen in New York on Friday, while the euro bought 125.32 yen from 124.97 yen. The Japanese unit has lost about 17 per cent against the dollar and 25 per cent against the euro since November.
The euro also bought $1.3329 compared with $1.3360 in New York on Friday.
National Australia Bank said the yen’s return to a weakening trend signalled “exchange rate shifts arising from appropriate domestic monetary and fiscal policies will not be criticised or challenged”.
“But direct reference to currencies as a policy objective will be,” it added in a note.
“We believe this means the yen is free to weaken, but Japanese officials must refrain from being seen to be goading the yen to weaker levels.”
In Shanghai, shares rose on their first day after the long holiday, with dealers optimistic about the domestic economy following strong trade data at the beginning of the month.
Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, down 32 cents to $95.54 a barrel in the afternoon while Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April added 18 cents to $117.84.
Gold was at $1,614.10 at 0820 GMT, compared with $1,628.08 late Friday.