Asia report: Markets rise, RBA keeps cash rate on hold
Markets in Asia closed higher on Tuesday, as Australia’s Reserve Bank stood pat on its current policy, and US president Donald Trump left hospital and returned to the White House.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.52% at 23,433.73, as the yen strengthened 0.15% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.59.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, robotics specialist Fanuc was up 1% and technology giant SoftBank Group added 2.41%, while Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing lost 0.13%.
The broader Topix index was ahead 0.52% by the end of trading in Tokyo, at 1,645.75.
Markets in mainland China remained closed for an ongoing public holiday.
South Korea’s Kospi managed gains of 0.34% to close at 2,365.90, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong added 0.9% to 23,980.65.
The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics adding 0.51%, while SK Hynix lost 0.24%.
Investors were focussed on US president Donald Trump during the Asian session, and his return to the White House after spending several days in hospital following his Covid-19 diagnosis.
His medical team said he was continuing to improve, although he “may not be entirely out of the woods yet”, according to White House doctor Sean Conley.
“President Trump has returned to the White House, but doctors cautioned that he is not out of the woods yet health wise,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.
“In the past couple of sessions, traders have been fixated on The Donald’s health and the news that he was to leave the medical centre lifted market sentiment.
“It is still considered to be a step in the right direction, but the guarded language from the medical professionals has taken the wind out of the bull’s sails.”
Oil prices were higher as the region went to bed, with Brent crude last up 0.97% at $41.69 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate adding 0.99% to $39.61.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.35% to 5,962.10, as fresh data showed the country’s balance on goods and services was down 43% on a seasonally-adjusted basis from July to August.
The Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate target steady at 0.25%, telling markets it would maintain its “highly accommodative” settings as long as they were required.
“The board continues to consider how additional monetary easing could support jobs as the economy opens up further,” said the central bank’s governor, Philip Lowe.
Gold miners Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings rocketed 10.64% and 9.58% in Sydney, respectively, after the pair announced a merger worth AUD 16bn.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was up 0.65% at 11,975.02, as the country’s listed electricity plays enjoyed decent gains.
Contact Energy rose 1.84%, Mercury NZ was up 1.74%, and Meridian Energy added 2.75%.
The down under dollars were in a mixed state against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.38% weaker at AUD 1.3979, while the Kiwi strengthened 0.01% to NZD 1.5049.