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Asian Stocks Inch Up, Mark Time Before US Healthcare Vote

Asian Stocks Inch Up, Mark Time Before US Healthcare Vote

2017-03-23 06:44:00
David Cottle, Analyst
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Talking Points

  • Asian stocks crept higher after a shaky couple of days
  • Investor focus is on Washington and a key healthcare vote
  • The US Dollar ticked up a little, too

Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday, taking cues from Wall Street’s rather more composed last session. Traders awaited a key US Congressional healthcare vote, which is widely being seen as a gauge of the Trump Administration’s legislative power.

The Nikkei 225 ended up 0.2% after a rather listless session which saw it on both sides of the start line at times. Markets have been keeping an eye on headlines out of Tokyo concerning the relationship between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife and the Principal of a school which may have bought land at a fraction of its market price. Abe has denied any wrongdoing.

In Sydney, the ASX 200 recovered some poise to end up 0.3%, despite some more worries about the likely path of iron-ore prices. The ore is a key Australian export. Over in Seoul the Kospi gained 0.2%, meanwhile, but in China the Shanghai composite slipped into the red by the close.

In foreign-exchange markets the US Dollar edged up from four-month lows, but gains were capped as these markets too waited on events in Congress. The UK Pound Sterling initially took a hit from a presumed terror attack near the Houses of Parliament in London on Wednesday, but did not stay down for long.

The New Zealand Dollar held steady as the country’s central bank left monetary policy unchanged, as expected, and said it would remain accommodative.

Crude oil prices rebounded from Wednesday’s losses, but swollen US inventories and rising output remain a worry for the market. Meanwhile gold prices steadied below the previous session’s three-week highs as the US Dollar recovered.

Coming up in the European and North American sessions will be UK retail-sales data and the European Central Bank’s economic bulletin, along with US existing-home sales and initial jobless claim numbers.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak, but she’ll do so at a Community Development Conference at which she may not offer many policy clues. The Bank of England’s Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent is also due to talk publicly, in London.

Would you like to know more about trading the financial markets? DailyFX’s trading guide should be your first stop.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX

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