Asia Markets

Asia shares higher as investors shake off Italian referendum concerns

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

Asian markets bounced back on Tuesday with the central bank in Australia holding its benchmark rate steady and as market uncertainty faded following the failed referendum in Italy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia, in its last monetary policy review for the year, held its cash rate at 1.5 percent as expected. The Australian central bank also said that a rising Aussie dollar might pose risks to the country's economic transition, as it moves away from a resource-led economy.

Australia's ASX 200 closed up 0.52 percent or 28.26 points at 5,428.7. Its industrials sub-index rose 1.17 percent while its materials sub-index was up 0.66 percent.

The Australian dollar fell to $0.7444 against the dollar as of 3:00 pm HK/SIN.

Asian markets open in the green

The closed 0.47 percent or 85.55 points at 18,360.54. The yen strengthened against the dollar, trading at 114.11 as of 3:00 pm HK/SIN, compared to levels around 113 earlier.

The Kospi finished up 1.35 percent or 26.5 points at 1,989.86 as South Korea's finance ministry said it would assign 68 percent of its 2017 budget to be spend in the first half of the year to boost growth.

In other news, nine of South Korea's top conglomerate leaders face a televised interrogation in parliament.

The investigation is over whether the business leaders, which including Samsung and Hyundai Motor Group, were ever pressured by President Park Gen-hye or her friend Choi Soon-sil to give money to two non-profit foundations in exchange for special treatment, Reuters reported.

The closed down 0.17 percent or 5.34 points at 3,199.37 as the Shenzhen composite closed up 0.158 percent or 3.28 points at 2,071.442. In Hong Kong, the gained 0.65 percent by mid-afternoon.

In overnight trade, several currency data providers including Google showed that the yuan tumbled to as low as 7.49 against the dollar. The sharp devaluation of the yuan which would have been a 8.8 percent rise of the currency pair from the onshore close of 6.883. Google confirmed that the figure was a bug and that it was fixing it.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan midpoint at 6.8575 against the dollar on Tuesday, suggesting a stronger yuan compared with a fix of 6.887 on Monday.

The yuan was trading at 6.8772 against the greenback as of 3:00 pm HK/SIN.

"Sentiment [in Asia] took a positive tone from the higher euro overnight, there was a consensus view that a 'no' vote from Italy could bring further distress to the European Union, but the higher euro shows investors do not see this as a concern," Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets, said to CNBC.

On the currency front, the euro was trading at 1.0738 against the dollar as of 3:00 pm HK/SIN. The pair had fallen to a 20-month low of $1.0503 on Monday.

Global investors had shaken off the Italian referendum results, and shares had risen higher on Monday.

Major U.S. indexes closed higher with the up 0.24 percent at 19,216.24, the S&P 500 gained 0.58 percent at 2,204.71 and the composite ended 1.01 percent higher at 5,308.89.

Major European stocks had also finished higher after the referendum rejection, with the pan-European ended 0.56 higher, with almost all sectors in the green.

Populists in Europe will lose: Moscovici

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced Monday he would step down after being defeated in a constitutional reform referendum, as voters showed a "clear" rejection of legislative reform measures. However, Renzi is expected to stay on until the passage of a federal budget in the next few days.

The reforms would have made it so that the executive branch needs approval only from parliament's lower house in order to pass laws, and simplify the legislative process.

The Italian referendum was "not the same as Brexit, which dramatically changes the very fabric of U.K. politics and economics," said Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management, in a note on Tuesday.

In other stock news, Genting Singapore was up 1.04 percent at $0.975 per share, and has jumped more than 9 percent since mid-November. Japan's lower house committee cleared the way to legalize casinos in the form of "integrated resorts" on Dec. 2, which could bode well for the integrated resorts development specialist.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was tracking 100.24, down from Monday's levels above 101.

Oil prices slipped on Tuesday, U.S. crude futures fell 0.93 percent to $51.31 a barrel and Brent futures dipped 0.71 percent at $54.55.

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