Asian shares wobble, US dollar on track for losing week

The US dollar has nursed widespread losses after President-elect Donald Trump's long-awaited news briefing provided little clarity on future fiscal policies, disappointing bulls who had bet on major stimulus.
A pedestrian stands in front of an electric quotation board flashing numbers of the Nikkei key index morning session of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on Jan 12, 2017.
A pedestrian stands in front of an electric quotation board flashing numbers of the Nikkei key index morning session of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on Jan 12, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian shares dipped on Friday (Jan 13) but remained on track for weekly gains while the dollar was poised for a losing week, as investors weighed whether President-elect Donald Trump would stress growth-boosting steps when he takes office.

On Wall Street, major indexes finished lower a day after Trump failed to elaborate on his economic stimulus plans in his first news conference since his Nov. 8 election victory.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 per cent, after rising to its highest levels since late October in the previous session. It was up 1.8 per cent for the week.

Japan's Nikkei stock index rose 0.4 per cent, on track to shed 1.2 per cent for the week.

Many investors remained hopeful that markets will get a lift from a wave of financial deregulation that could follow Trump's inauguration, including a rollback of some of the Dodd-Frank financial reform that Congress enacted after the financial crisis and bank bailouts.

"Market weakness at the end of the week may continue, but anticipation of a Dodd-Frank repeal possibility spurs an optimistic outlook," said Hiroki Allen, chief representative of Superfund Japan in Tokyo.

But this week's stronger yen also dented demand for Japanese shares. The dollar edged up 0.1 per cent to 114.86 yen after skidding as low as 113.75 on Thursday, its lowest since Dec 8. It was on track to shed 1.8 per cent for the week.

The dollar wallowed around five week lows against a currency basket, even as the dollar index edged up 0.2 per cent to 101.52. It was down 0.7 per cent for the week.

The dollar index scaled 14-year peaks this month, on speculation that Trump's policies would spur growth and inflation, and prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a faster pace than previously expected.

The euro was steady at US$1.0612, well above last week's 14-year low of US$1.0340 and poised to gain 0.7 per cent for the week.

Crude oil prices extended gains, bolstered by the weaker dollar as well as news that Saudi Arabia has cut oil output to its lowest in almost two years and plans further reductions.

Brent crude was trading 1.8 per cent at US$56.11 a barrel, while US crude was up slightly at US$53.03.

Spot gold was nearly flat at US$1,194.90 an ounce, after it surged to seven-week highs above US$1,200.