Asian Stocks Dragged Lower by Japan as Yen Continues to Rise

  • MSCI Asia Pacific Index slips on second day of new quarter
  • Markets shut for holidays in China, Hong Kong, India, Taiwan

A positive start to the second quarter for Asian equities was cut short as Japanese stocks led declines on a day when many other markets in the region were shut for holidays.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.3 percent to 147.22 as of 3:53 p.m. in Hong Kong, with Toshiba Corp. leading losses. The yen climbed against the dollar for the third straight session while Japanese automakers fell after reporting lower-than-expected March sales in the U.S. In the Philippines, the local equity benchmark rose to the highest level since Oct. 26.

The regional gauge has climbed 9 percent so far this year amid reassurances from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it has confidence in the world’s largest economy. The Fed is scheduled to release meeting minutes later this week, during which President Donald Trump holds a summit with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

“The market has done quite well so far this year so the decline today may be just profit-taking,” Ang Kok Heng, chief investment officer at Kuala Lumpur-based Phillip Capital Management Bhd., said by phone. “If Trump is not so aggressive in trade policy, it will be good for the market.”

China and Taiwan are shut for the second day this week and resume trading on Wednesday. India and Hong Kong are also closed today.

Summary

  • Nikkei 225 -0.9%, Topix -0.8%; yen +0.3%
    • Toshiba -9.4% after NHK reported the company will seek additional help from lenders; Toyota -1%
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index -0.3%; New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index +0.3%; South Korea’s Kospi index -0.3%
    • Reserve Bank of Australia keeps interest rates unchanged
  • Philippine Stock Exchange Index +1.4%; FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index -0.1%; Straits Times Index -0.2%; Jakarta Composite Index +0.7%, Thailand’s SET Index little changed
    • Bumi Resources rises 23%, leading gains in Indonesian miners after cyclone Debbie in Australia causes surge in coal price
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