Dollar drops further while Asia stocks are mixed

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Wellington - The dollar slumped for a second day, continuing its slide from a multi-year peak at the beginning of 2017.

Asian stocks were mixed, with a decline in Japan offsetting gains in Hong Kong, while oil rebounded from Monday’s retreat and iron ore extended gains.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slumped for the fourth time in five days before US President-elect Donald Trump holds a news briefing on Wednesday.

The yen climbed and the Korean won rallied following its worst drop since November. Japan’s shares dropped after a holiday on Monday while Hong Kong shares rallied for a fourth day.
 
Gold climbed to the highest level in a month. US crude was around $52 a barrel after sinking the most in more than five weeks amid concern over Iraq’s compliance with Opec’s production cuts.

Anxiety has crept back into markets in the New Year following a burst of optimism that accompanied Trump’s surprise election victory, with investors expressing their concern largely via the currency market.

The pound has been hit by resurgent angst over the implications of Brexit, while bitcoin has been whipsawed after touching an all-time high last week.

China, which has allowed the yuan to strengthen in 2017 amid a struggle to contain capital outflows, reported that the producer price index rose at the fastest pace in more than five years in December.

"The mood is really hesitant," said Yukio Ishizuki, senior FX strategist at Daiwa Securities Company in Tokyo.

"Strength in the US economy naturally makes the dollar attractive, but given so much of an expectation was built on Trump’s policies and markets are now undergoing a correction, it is slightly scary to build dollar longs."

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dropped 0.2% as of 2:45 Tokyo time, leaving the gauge - which tracks the greenback versus 10 major peers - down 1.2% since touching a 14-year high on January 3.

China’s offshore yuan rose 0.1%. The currency dropped for two straight days after reaching the highest since November last week. The yen increased 0.4% to 115.63 per dollar after rallying 0.9% on Monday.

The won strengthened 1.1% following a 1.3% slide in the previous session.

The pound touched its lowest level since October 28 on Monday after UK Prime Minister Theresa May said over the weekend that negotiations on Brexit will be about 'getting the right relationship, not about keeping bits of membership."

A so-called hard Brexit may push the Bank of England to keep rates lower for longer, while weakening the pound and supporting foreign-focused companies in the main stock index.

Stocks

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.4%, with more stocks falling than rising on the dollar-denominated gauge. Japan’s Topix dropped 0.6%, after erasing an earlier loss during the morning trading session.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1% as financial shares slipped 1.4%, while the Kospi index in Seoul lost 0.3%. New Zealand and Singapore equities rose.

The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.5%. China’s producer price index jumped 5.5% last month from a year earlier, compared to the median estimate of 4.6% in a Bloomberg survey and a 3.3% gain in November.

India’s S&P BSE Sensex added 0.4%, while a gauge of mid-cap stocks climbed to its highest level in more than a month.

The S&P 500 fell 0.4% on Monday after closing Friday at an all-time high, capping a 6.4% advance since Trump’s election.

The Dow Average slipped by 76 points to 19 887.38. It’s been stuck in a 250-point range for the past month.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude added 0.2% to $52.01 a barrel after sinking 3.8% last session as an increase in US drilling offset signs that Opec members are sticking to planned output cuts.

Iron ore futures in China extended gains as data showed factory prices advanced at the fastest clip in five years. May-delivery contract rose as much as +3.8% to 593 yuan/ton on Dalian Commodity Exchange, near daily limit of 594 yuan and highest since December 16.

Gold advanced 0.3% to $1 185.13 an ounce, with demand forecast to rise ahead of Chinese New Year. It gained 0.7% on Monday.  Copper futures climbed 0.9% in New York.

Bonds

Australian government bonds climbed for the third time in four sessions, with yields down five basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 2.71%. Similar maturity New Zealand debt yielded 3.17%, down eight basis points.

Yields on Treasury notes were steady after falling six basis points to 2.37% on Monday.

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