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Jan 19, 2017

Asian Markets at Close Report on January 19, 2019: nikkei Rises Despite Toshiba's Dive, as Asian Markets Hold Steady
Ese Erheriene 
Asian stocks on Thursday mostly ended near Wednesday’s closing levels ahead of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, but Japanese equities jumped as the dollar rebounded.

That move in the dollar came after overnight comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen that were interpreted hawkishly. She suggested that steady interest-rate hikes are anticipated the next several years, with her comments coming hours after the release of the strongest on year December U.S. consumer inflation in 2 1/2 years.

“I think the market is behind the Fed’s ability to hike rates,” said Kay Van-Petersen, Asia macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets. “A stronger dollar should put more pressure on some emerging market forex but it generally should be good for the equity markets.”

Among Asian currencies, the yen took the biggest hit. A traditional safe-haven asset that typically sees investors flock to it in a low-rate environment, the currency fell more than a full yen against the dollar during Yellen’s comments and approached ¥115. The dollar was recently around ¥114.85.
While insurers and banks have been leading stock gains in Japan, Toshiba 6502, -15.98% tumbled 16% following a report that losses at the firm’s nuclear-power business could exceed ¥500 billion. But the Nikkei Stock Average NIK, +0.94%   ended 0.9% higher.
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Across the region, Asian stocks largely started Thursday in the red and remained there, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, -0.21%  among the decliners, ending down 0.2%.

Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.11%   opened at a 2017 high, seesawing between gains and losses before ending up 0.1%. Samsung Electronics 005930, +1.46%  , by far the index’s biggest component, caught a strong initial updraft after a South Korean court dismissed an arrest warrant for scion Lee Jae-yong. It s shares rose 1.5%.

Major indexes in Taiwan Y9999, -0.26%  , Australia XJO, +0.24%  , China SHCOMP, -0.38%   and New Zealand NZ50GR, +0.04%   are just a touch higher from Wednesday’s finishes.
“Investors tend to be more cautious ahead of ... Chinese New Year, when uncertainties could occur after Trump’s inauguration,” said Qian Qimin at Shenyin Wanguo Securities.