Nikkei breaks losing streak
buying in defensive stocks offsets yen strength
- Japan’s Nikkei index rose, breaking a seven-day losing streak, despite the yen continuing to strengthen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 0.2% at 15,749.84, helped by a rebound in energy and healthcare stocks.
But shares in exporters were hit as the dollar weakened to 108.78 yen, a 17-month low, with the US currency falling following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve.
In China, the Shanghai Composite fell 32.65 points, or 1.1%, to 3,017.94.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was trading higher despite falling in early trade. At midday the index was up 0.3% at 20,254.23.
Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE – whose shares are listed in Hong Kong – slumped 14% at the start of the session as trading resumed for the first time since last month.
That was when the US Commerce Department imposed export restrictions on the firm, for allegedly violating US export controls against Iran.
ZTE’s shares later recovered slightly to stand down 8.7% in afternoon trade.
South Korea’s Kospi index pared earlier losses to close up 0.1% at 1,973.89.
Samsung shares rose nearly 2% in early trade, after the company said it was expecting a 10% jump in operating profit for the first quarter period. However, Samsung’s shares fell back and closed down 1.5%.
In Australia, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 finished 0.4% higher at 4,964.10.
US:The dollar slipped for a second day, reaching a 17-month low against the yen, and emerging-market shares rallied after Federal Reserve meeting minutes reaffirmed U.S. policy makers aren’t rushing to raise interest rates.
The greenback’s weakness sent the yen on its longest rally since January and pushed the euro to a five-month high. A measure of emerging market stocks rose for the first time in three days, led by health-care and energy shares.
The Malaysian ringgit climbed as an unexpected drop in U.S. oil inventories sent crude higher for a third day.
While they discussed the relative health of the American economy at their March meeting, Fed officials contrasted it with persistent risks facing the global outlook. Traders are assigning zero chance of the Fed increasing rates in April, with the odds not topping 50 percent until its December meeting. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said for a third successive day the government is watching yen movements with vigilance, adding in his latest comments that the authorities will act appropriately if necessary.
West Texas Intermediate crude added 0.7 percent to $38.01 a barrel following last session’s 5.2 percent jump, its steepest one-day gain since March 16. Brent climbed 0.5 percent to $40.02 a barrel.
U.S. crude stockpiles fell 4.94 million barrels last week, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed, after analysts predicted a 2.85 million-barrel gain. Refineries processed the most oil in three months as output and imports slipped.
Gold for immediate delivery attempted a rebound, rising 0.5 percent to $1,228.59 an ounce following Wednesday’s 0.7 percent retreat.
European shares open slightly higher led by healthcare, miners
European shares were slightly higher in early deals on Thursday led by gains in mining and healthcare stocks, but gains were capped by some stocks such as Daimler going ex-dividend.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.17 percent by 0722 GMT after gaining 0.8 percent in the previous session.
Healthcare stocks, up 0.9 percent, were the top sectoral gainers for a second session after the termination of the mega Pfizer/Allergan merger deal fuelled talk of other consolidation activity in the sector.
Wirecard rose 3 percent after the German payments processor reported a rise in full-year profits and proposed lifting its dividend.
German carmaker Daimler fell more than 3 percent. Among other stocks going ex dividend were Skanska and Pearson which fell 5.2 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.
Russian economic contraction may be less than 1.3-1.5 pct in 2016 at current oil prices
An expected contraction in Russia’s economy this year may be less than 1.3-1.5 percent, the central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina said on Thursday, assuming oil prices stay at around their current levels.
Nabiullina also said that a recent sharp decline in inflation, to 7.3 percent in March, did not necessarily mean that inflation would continue to fall.