Asia markets opened mixed on Monday, as traders digested U. S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen ‘s Friday speech and awaited Chinese data due this week.
Australia’s ASX 200 traded flat, with most sectors lower. The heavily-weighted financial sector, however, was up 0.48 percent, while the materials sector advanced 0.19 percent.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.25 percent in early trade, with shares receiving a boost from a relatively weaker yen. The Japanese yen traded at 104.07 against the dollar as of 8:11 a.m. HK/SIN, compared to levels below 103.80 in the previous week.
Shares of major exporters were mostly higher; Toyota shares were up 0.77 percent, Nissan gained 0.7 percent, and Mitsubishi Electric added 1.96 percent. Honda shares, however, were lower by 0.33 percent, while Sony fell 0.41 percent.
A weaker yen is usually a positive for exporters as it increases their overseas profits when converted back to local currency.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was up 0.22 percent. Samsung Electronics shares were down 1.27 percent at 1,557,000 Korean won a share; last week, the company said its Galaxy note 7 debacle was going to cost it more than $5 billion , after it abandoned production of the handsets.
In the currency market, the dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, advanced to the 98 handle, trading at 98.093 as of 8:23 a.m. HK/SIN.
The relative strength in the dollar kept other currency majors lower; the British pound traded at $1.2172, compared to its last close at $1.2185, while the euro was at $1.0969.
On Friday, Yellen said the central bank might want to let inflation run hotter for a while, pointing out that the economy had seen an unusual tendency for weak demand against strong supply.
She said that made it reasonable to ask if there was a possibility to reverse adverse supply-side effects by temporarily running an economy with robust aggregate demand and a tight labor market.
“Though the Fed chair offered no fresh clues on near term policy decisions, Yellen posed a lot of questions deemed worthy of further research, the one markets jumped on being the suggestion that running a ‘high pressure’ economy could boost labor market participation and ultimately lift the supply side potential of the U. S. economy,” Ray Attrill, global co-head of foreign exchange strategy at the National Australia Bank, said in a morning note.
In company news, shares of Australia’s biggest casino company, Crown Resorts , fell 8.73 percent at 11.83 Australian dollars a share, following reports of its employees being detained by Chinese authorities.
Crown said in a Monday statement filed with the Australian Securities Exchange that 18 of its employees, including its executive vice president VIP International, Jason O’Connor, were detained, and that it was working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to make contact with them.
The company also said it was yet to be provided with details of why its employees were detained.
Elsewhere, shares of rivals Star Entertainment dropped 4.01 percent in mid-morning trade to A$5.50 a share.
On tap later this week is a deluge of data from China , including third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), house prices, industrial production numbers, retail sales and fixed asset investment.
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