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Asian Stocks Mostly Higher, US Dollar Mired Against Other Majors

Asian Stocks Mostly Higher, US Dollar Mired Against Other Majors

David Cottle, Analyst

Talking Points:

  • Most Asian stocks rose, although some key markets remained closed for holiday- notably Japan
  • The US Dollar was lower against its major traded rivals and other Asian currencies
  • Chinese manufacturing surprised investors to the upside

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Asian stocks were mostly firmer Tuesday in the first full trading session of 2018,as markets overcame a softer Wall Street lead.

The Shanghai Composite, the Hang Seng and South Korea’s Kospi were all higher. China’s private manufacturing sector turned in a strong December performance by the Caixin Purchasing Managers Index measure. This beat expectations by a wide margin and offset some of the official PMI’s weaker showing. North Korea also seemed to leave the door open to talks with the South in Pyonyang's New Year commentary.

Japanese and New Zealand markets remained closed for the holidays, leaving investors to wonder whether the broad rally would have survived had the former been open. The exporter-heavy Nikkei rarely gains when the US Dollar is on the back foot. And indeed the Dollar was lower against its major traded counterparts, with the Australian and New Zealand Dollars doing especially well against it. Suspicions that the US Federal Reserve won’t have the monetary policy tightening field to itself to quite the degree thought at some points last year seems to be behind its current weakness.

Crude oil prices posted their best start to a year since 2014. Both Brent crude and the US benchmark were above $60/ barrel. Ongoing unrest in major producer Iran and ongoing supply cuts from traditional producers were behind its rise. Gold prices were flat, albeit closed to three-month highs.

Still to come Tuesday are PMI indicators from around the Eurozone and also from the United States.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter:@DavidCottleFX

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.