Asian shares mixed as U.S. debt deadline approaches
Asian markets were mixed on Thursday as traders nervously awaited signs of progress in solving a budget stand-off in Washington that threatens to plunge the U.S. into default.
President Barack Obama said he will meet leaders of the Republicans and Democrats to try to break the deadlock, which has shut down parts of the government for 10 days and could continue past a deadline to raise the country’s borrowing limit.
The dollar got a boost after Obama formally picked fiscal dove Janet Yellen to take over from Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index ended up 1.12 percent, or 156.87 points, at 14,194.71 thanks to the weaker yen, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was up 0.95 percent, or 11.05 points, at 1,177.95.
“The signs emanating from Washington are slightly more positive for equity sentiment,” Hiroichi Nishi of SMBC Nikko Securities said.
“Talk of a short-term increase in the debt limit to allow time for broader budget negotiations is seen as a first step to ending the deadlock,” Nishi said.
“But with only a week to go now (until October 17 default), there isn’t a great deal of time,” he added.
Fast Retailing fell 0.57 percent to 34,550 yen on a brokerage downgrade.
After markets closed, the operator of the Uniqlo clothing chain said it logged a 26.1 percent rise in net profit for the year to August.
Exporters were generally higher, with industrial robotics maker Fanuc rising 2.03 percent to 16,010 yen and automaker Honda up 2.50 percent at 3,885 yen.
The Sydney market dropped 0.11 percent, or 5.9 points, to 5,147.1 and Seoul was flat, edging down 1.36 points to close at 2,001.40.
Hong Kong fell 0.36 percent, or 82.67 points, to finish at 22,951.30, while Shanghai lost 0.94 percent, or 20.84 points, to 2,190.93.
Taipei was closed for a public holiday.
In afternoon Tokyo trade the dollar bought 97.72 yen compared with 97.37 yen in New York Wednesday.
The euro sat at $1.3505 compared with $1.3523 while it fetched 131.99 yen, against 131.74 yen.
Hopes that the Fed’s stimulus will stay in place a little longer helped emerging Asian markets, which have benefited from an investment splurge fuelled by the low US interest rates. Jakarta was up 0.76 percent Thursday afternoon, Bangkok was 1.25 percent higher and Kuala Lumpur added 0.43 percent
On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in November, was up 39 cents at $102.00 in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for November gained 89 cents to $109.95.
Gold cost $1,300.10 at 0845 GMT compared with $1,311.10 on Wednesday.
In other markets:
— Wellington ended up 0.14 percent, or 6.75 points, at 4,717.38.
Air New Zealand rose 0.34 percent to NZ$1.475 and Fletcher Building gained 0.43 percent to NZ$9.42 but Telecom was off 0.65 percent at NZ$2.285.
— Manila climbed 0.91 percent, or 58.22 points, to 6,435.97.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.07 percent to 2,928 pesos and Ayala Corp. added 0.90 percent to 616.00 pesos, while Universal Robina was up 2.03 percent at 120.80 pesos.
— Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this article —