Asia shares higher as China shares rally on yuan weakness
HONG KONG: Chinese shares rallied Monday, leading gains in most other Asian markets higher as Beijing guided the yuan lower again, extending a decline that has picked up pace since Donald Trump's US election victory.
Keeping Score: The Shanghai Composite Index leaped 1.1 percent to 3,227.48 while Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.5 percent to 18,055.23. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.1 percent to 1,973.75 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 22,459.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent to 5,3567.80. Taiwan's benchmarks rose but those in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines sagged.
Renminbi Retreat: Chinese authorities set the yuan's official fix, or "parity rate," for the country's tightly controlled currency 189 basis points lower to 6.8985 against the dollar. It's the 12th day in a row Beijing has guided the yuan, amid suspicions Beijing is willing to let the currency, also known as the renminbi, weaken to help exports. The yuan hasn't been this weak since the depths of the global financial crisis in 2008. The currency's decline has hastened since the election victory by Trump, who has vowed to brand China a currency manipulator as part of measures to counter what he says are unfair trade practices.
Fed Outlook: The dollar has also been rising against other major world currencies as investors increasingly factor in a Fed rate hike in December based on comments last week from US central bank policymakers. The greenback's nearly 7 percent again against the yen in the past week has helped boost Japan's major exporters, which benefit because their overseas profits can be converted into more yen. Trump's campaign promises to boost the U.S. economy by ramping up government spending and cutting red tape has also lifted the dollar but investors continue to wait for concrete details.
Analyst Insight: "Donald Trump's economic policies remain the number one consideration for world markets," said Ric Spooner of CMC Markets in Sydney. "Investors are trying to strike the right balance between positioning for a major dose of US fiscal stimulus and not getting too far committed, given the uncertainty surrounding what policies the new Trump Administration will actually implement."
Wall Street: Major US stock indexes ended slightly lower on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 0.2 percent to 18,867.93. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.2 percent to 2,181.90. The Nasdaq composite touched a record high early on but then ended 0.2 percent lower at 5,321.51.
Currencies: The dollar climbed to 110.98 yen from 110.92 yen in late trading Friday. The euro edged up to $1.0599 from $1.0589.
Energy: Benchmark US crude extended gains. Oil futures rose 43 cents to close at $46.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 27 cents to close at $45.69 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added 48 cents to $47.34 a barrel in London.