Asian stocks climb while yen slips as geopolitical tensions ease

 Currency dealers monitor exchange rates in a trading room at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul, on March 16, 2017.
Currency dealers monitor exchange rates in a trading room at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul, on March 16, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Asian equities gained on Tuesday (April 18) after US stocks rose the most in six weeks, while the yen weakened as geopolitical threats eased and American economic data damped the odds for a Federal Reserve rate hike in June.

Bloomberg's dollar index strengthened after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Financial Times the greenback's strength is "a good thing." The yield on 10-year Treasuries continued to edge higher from a November low. Gold declined for a third day.

Investors turned less cautious in the absence of any major international incidents that damped the prospects for global growth. The US has gotten encouraging signs that China will act to pressure Kim Jong Un's regime to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, a State Department official said, but the Trump administration is holding on to military action - alone or with allies - as an option.

Readings on American housing and New York manufacturing lowered the odds for higher interest rates, while faster growth in China boosted optimism about the strength of the global economy. Exchanges open after the Easter break in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The yen declined 0.3 per cent to 109.21 per dollar as of 9:16am in Tokyo. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index added less than 0.1 per cent after falling 0.2 per cent on Monday to the lowest closing level since March 27.

Japan's Topix advanced 1 per cent, after a 0.5 per cent increase on Monday. South Korea's Kospi also gained for a second day, adding 0.1 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5 per cent and New Zealand's benchmark climbed 0.2 per cent.

Futures on the S&P 500 were steady. The index rose 0.9 per cent on Monday, rebounding from a 1.1 per cent loss last week. Trading in S&P 500 shares was 16 per cent below the 30-day average.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries increased less than one basis point to 2.26 per cent, after rising one basis point from the lowest in about five months on Monday.

Gold slipped 0.2 per cent to US$1,282.31 an ounce after declining for two days.

West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at US$52.66 a barrel, after dropping 1 per cent on Monday.