Asia Markets

Japanese markets close higher for 16th straight day as rest of Asia treads water

Key Points
  • Asian markets were little changed
  • China's 19th Party Congress officially drew to a close
  • Japanese markets closed higher for a 16th straight day
  • New Zealand dollar declined
  • President Donald Trump said he was "very, very close" to making a decision on the next chair of the Federal Reserve

Asian markets were little changed in Tuesday trade after U.S. stocks lost steam overnight and the dollar edged down from three-month highs.

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed higher for the 16th straight session. The benchmark index rose 0.5 percent, or 108.52 points, to close at a fresh 21-year high of 21,805.17. The index had already broken its 14-day winning streak record, which had been set in the 1960s, after closing higher on Monday.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi edged up 0.02 percent to finish the session at 2,490.49 even though most blue-chip tech stocks edged lower: SK Hynix closed down 3.42 percent, LG Electronics declined 3.91 percent and Samsung Electronics was off 0.48 percent.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 inched higher by 0.06 percent to close at 5,897.6. Financials and energy stocks edged down, but gold miners notched significant gains: Kingsgate closed up 4.71 percent and Alacer Gold rose 4 percent.

Greater China markets were narrowly mixed. Hong Kong's was under pressure, declining 0.47 percent by 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN while mainland markets closed mixed. The tacked on 0.22 percent to close at 3,388.2477 and the Shenzhen Composite lost 0.119 percent to end at 2,009.0208.

China's 19th Party Congress, which drew to an official close on Tuesday, was also in focus. China watchers will be paying close attention to the unveiling of the country's new leadership lineup expected on Wednesday.

The Communist Party on Tuesday approved a revised version of its constitution that now includes Chinese President Xi Jinping's name, Reuters reported. The only other Chinese leader who has been in office when they had their name honored in that manner was Mao Zedong.

The declined on Tuesday after the incoming government announced details of their policy priorities. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.6925 at 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to levels around $0.697 handle seen on Monday. The currency traded near five-month lows touched last week after the Labour-led coalition was announced.

Meanwhile, the greenback pared gains after touching a more than three-month high overnight following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's election victory. The dollar fetched 113.64 yen at 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to the 113.7 handle seen at the end of Asian trade on Monday.

The dollar was mostly stable against a basket of rival currencies as investors speculated about President Donald Trump's decision for the next chair of the Federal Reserve. The dollar index last stood at 93.840.

The president on Monday said he was "very, very close" to coming to a decision, Reuters reported. Trump had earlier acknowledged in a televised interview that markets expected him to choose either Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell or Stanford economist John Taylor.

"The appointment of Powell, who is regarded as relatively dovish on rates and in favor of reduced regulation, could be seen as a positive for stock markets and bearish for the dollar. Taylor, on the other hand, may lead to a boost in the dollar and some nervousness in stock markets," Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note.

Wall Street expects Trump to ultimately choose Powell as current Fed Chair Janet Yellen's successor, according to CNBC's last Fed survey.

Stateside, stocks on Wall Street closed lower on Monday as the most packed week of earnings season kicked off, with a fall in shares of General Electric weighing on sentiment. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 0.23 percent, or 54.67 points, to close at 23,273.96.

Investors are also awaited the European Central Bank's upcoming policy meeting, where details on the central bank's plan to taper its quantitative easing program are expected. The ECB's meeting will conclude on Thursday.

Ahead of that meeting, the euro last traded at $1.1746 — a touch below Monday's close of $1.1748.

In corporate news, Thai Airways International has picked All Nippon Airways as its only flight-sharing partner in Japan, dropping its previous arrangements with Japan Airlines, Nikkei Asian Review reported. Shares of both Japanese airlines closed higher: ANA was up 0.05 percent and Japan Airlines gained 0.34 percent.

Meanwhile, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou met with Apple COO Jeff Williams to talk about production of the iPhone X, Nikkei reported. Pre-orders for the new iPhone model open on Oct. 27. Hon Hai Precision Industry shares closed flat.

Meanwhile, oil prices were stable on Monday. Brent crude was up 0.05 percent at $57.40 a barrel and U.S. crude futures added 0.02 percent to trade at $51.91.