Asian markets were mixed on Monday, as the dollar strengthened against Asian currencies.
Japan’s benchmark’s Nikkei 225 index closed up 1.39 percent, or 233,18 points at 17,068.02, as the yen weakened against the rising dollar and on media reports that a planned hike in the country’s consumption would be delayed.
Chinese markets pared back earlier losses: Shanghai composite closed up 0.1 percent, at 2.818 points at 2,823.864 and the Shenzhen composite closed lower by 0.457 percent, or 8.264 points at 1,798.774.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index traded up 0.3 percent at 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN time.
Australia’s ASX 200 closed effectively flat at 5,408 points, weighed by a 0.66 percent decline in its materials subindex.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi closed down 0.1 percent, or 2.04 points at 1,967, in the wake of a South Korean central bank survey of 1,700 manufacturers showing that business confidence was at a seven-month high.
Over in south-east Asia, AirAsia stocks were up 1.7 percent, after the low-cost carrier’s CEO Tony Fernandes said there was a $1 billion offer for its leasing subsidiary, reported Reuters.
Japan’s April retail sales fell 0.8 percent year-on-year, compared to market consensus for a 1.2 percent decline, according to Reuters.
Over the weekend, a Japanese government source told news media that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would most likely postpone the consumption tax hike for fear of upsetting the country’s fragile economy.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar/ Japanese yen currency pair was trading at 111.29, breaking above 111 levels for the first time since late April. A weaker yen is generally a positive for exporter as it increases overseas profits when converted into local currency.
The Australian dollar weakened 0.21 percent against the dollar, trading at 0.7163 at 2:27 p.m. HK/SIN time.
“The Aussie dollar is looking increasingly steady below the US$0.72 level. A trip below US$0.70 may not be far off if we see strong US economic data this week,” said Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG, in a Monday note.
The U.S. dollar currency index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies, was up 0.42 percent at 95.925.
Last Friday, the dollar had rallied as much as 0.62 percent to 95.76, its highest levels since March 29, after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said a rate hike in the coming months “would be appropriate,” reported Reuters.
U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day while the U.K. is also shuttered for a public holiday.