Asian stocks, US dollar recover as markets try to move past Trump's policy stumble

The S&P 500 cut earlier losses to end slightly lower, while the Dow declined for an eighth straight session, as investors assessed how the defeat of President Donald Trump's first major legislative action would impact the rest of his agenda.
A pedestrian walking in front of an electric quotation board flashing the Nikkei key index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, on March 27, 2017.
A pedestrian walking in front of an electric quotation board flashing the Nikkei key index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, on March 27, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Asian stocks pulled ahead on Tuesday (March 28) after Wall Street steadied and the US dollar bounced from a four-month-low, as concern over Donald Trump's setback on his healthcare reform bill gave away to tentative hopes for the US President's planned stimulus policies.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.3 per cent in early trade.

Japan's Nikkei jumped 1.1 per cent, its biggest one-day gain in more than two weeks, while Australian stocks advanced 0.9 per cent.

South Korean stocks climbed 0.4 per cent after data showed the domestic economy grew at a slightly faster pace than initially thought in the fourth quarter of 2016, supported by strong construction activity.

Overnight, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed lower but had narrowed their losses from earlier in the session, when both hit near-six-week lows. The Nasdaq ended higher.

Risk appetite had evaporated after Trump's failure to garner enough support last week to pass a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature health care bill, even with a Republican-controlled Congress.

That blow for Trump spooked global risk assets on concerns about the president's ability to enact stimulus policies. The MSCI World index, which had stumbled last week, managed to recover, as confidence returned that the Trump administration will corral Congressional support for other pro-growth policies.

"Markets appear reluctant to take the Trump disappointment too much further at this stage," Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, wrote in a note. "With US economic growth showing signs of improvement and the (Federal Reserve) clearly embarked on a monetary tightening cycle, the significant correction that has already occurred in bonds and the US dollar may already reflect an adequate wind-back of the market's Trump exuberance."

The US 10-year bond yield, which hit a one-month low on Monday, recovered to trade higher at 2.3782 on Tuesday.

The dollar added 0.1 per cent to 110.75 yen after touching its lowest level since November on Monday.

The dollar index inched up to 99.233 after slumping to a 4-1/2-month low on Monday.

The euro was steady at US$1.08655 on Tuesday, after touching its highest level since November on Monday.

In commodities, the return of risk appetite helped lift oil from a level close to the 3-1/2-month low seen last week, despite lingering concerns about whether producers will extend an OPEC-led output cut beyond the end of June to ease a global glut.

US crude gained 0.5 per cent to US$47.96 a barrel, after dropping as much as 1.9 per cent on Monday.

Gold was little changed at US$1,253.06 early on Tuesday, after pulling back from the one-month-high hit earlier on Monday.