Asia report: Markets mixed as Chinese Communist Party meets

Josh White WebFG News | 18 Oct, 2017 11:55 | | |

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Markets in Asia were mixed but little changed on Wednesday, as investors in the region were turning their attention towards Beijing and the Communist Party Congress for signals on the country’s policy direction.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was ahead 0.13% at 21,363.05, as the yen weakened 0.49% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 112.75.

The major exporters were mixed on the Tokyo bourse, with Mitsubishi Motor down 1.32%, Nissan up 0.09% and Softbank 0.51% softer.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.28% at 3,381.37, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was down 0.4% at 2,000.11.

Despite the event’s historic lack of transparency in terms of policy signals, market watchers were still eyeing the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party for clues on where the world’s second largest economy was heading.

President Xi Jinping gave a more-than-three hour speech on Wednesday, in which he pledged better market access in the service sector along with deeper economic reforms.

South Korea’s Kospi finished down 0.06% at 2,482.91, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong eked out gains of 0.05% to settle at 28,711.76.

Oil prices were bobbing above and below the waterline for much of the session but turned higher as Europe took the trading baton, with Brent crude last up 0.86% at $58.38 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.46% at $52.12.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was up just 0.01% at 5,890.48, led higher by the utilities subindex which rose 1.21%, as the telecommunications sector trended lower.

Rio Tinto was down 0.76% in Sydney, as it was charged with fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over the alleged inflation of asset prices in Mozambique.

The company said it was preparing to “vigorously defend” the “unwarranted” charges.

Across the Tasman Sea, the S&P/NZX 50 was up 0.04% at 8,115.02, led higher by infant food and dairy products exporter Synlait, which was ahead 2.1% to a fresh record price.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shares were up 0.3% in Wellington, after it confirmed Sir John Key - the country’s former Prime Minister, until his resignation in late 2016 - would be the new chairman of the New Zealand side of the operation.

Both of the down under dollars were weaker against the greenback, with the Aussie last off 0.2% at AUD 1.2773, and the Kiwi retreating 0.53% to NZD 1.4020.

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