Mixed run for Asian markets after weak lead from Wall Street

Tokyo stocks made solid gains on Wednesday, Aug 17, 2016.
Tokyo stocks made solid gains on Wednesday, Aug 17, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Tokyo stocks made solid gains Wednesday as the yen halted its rally and energy and banking stocks rose, while elsewhere in the region trade was lacklustre after a weak lead from Wall Street.

Singapore stocks finished lower with the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) down 15. 45 points, or 0.54 per cent, to close at 2,843.35. A total of 917 million shares changed hands with turnover of S$750 million.

Elsewhere investors were cautious, with Sydney ending flat while Seoul, Manila and Bangkok were all down.

The dollar picked up against the yen Wednesday after comments from a senior US central banker suggested the Federal Reserve could hike interest rates as early as September.

William Dudley, head of the Fed's New York branch, said a rate hike was possible next month and that Wall Street investors were too "complacent" about the prospect of higher rates over the next year.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.9 per cent, snapping a two-day losing streak as a drop in the safe haven currency lifted exporters - making them more competitive overseas.

In Chinese markets, Shanghai was flat and Hong Kong lost 0.3 per cent but Shenzhen gained 0.3 per cent after news that the government had approved plans to link trading between the Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

China's powerful State Council said Tuesday that the government had approved plans to link trading between the Shenzhen stock exchange and the Hong Kong market, paving the way for the long-awaited reform.

Also in Hong Kong, shares in the region's flag carrier Cathay Pacific plunged after the company reported its first-half profit dropped 82 per cent from a year earlier due to a slowdown in China and intense competition from other airlines.

The company warned it faced a "difficult environment" in the coming months as weaker demand and huge fuel hedging losses have hit its bottom line.