By Ese Erheriene
Stocks were broadly higher in Asia on Tuesday, catching an updraft from rising U.S. stocks, commodities price rebounds, but with yen volatility throwing in an X factor to proceedings.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.41% was trading 0.5% higher, while Malaysia’s FTSE Bursa /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI -0.15% and Singapore’s Strait Times /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -0.52% both gained 0.3%, after oil and metal prices pulled back from recent losses.
Brent, the global benchmark, was up $0.22 to $49.37 a barrel, while copper was up 0.5% at $4,637 a metric ton, supporting shares of commodities-related companies. In Australia, Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +2.97% was up 1% and Oil Search Ltd. was up 1.9%.
Elsewhere, the Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.03% was up 0.5%, the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +1.40% was flat and Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.13% was up 0.7%.
Japanese stocks are locked in their usual interplay with the yen, with yen strength typically lowering Tokyo share prices, and yen weakness boosting that market. On the Tuesday morning session, all of that happened.
At the opening of the Nikkei Stock Average session, a bout of yen strengthening against the U.S. dollar chipped away at the index. The Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.53% was last up 0.03% at 16,743.32 points, while the yen is 0.24% weaker against the dollar.
“It is a currency story,” says Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG. “It must be a total pain to invest in the Japanese stocks at the moment when the sole driver and focus for the market is just the exchange rate.”
Looking ahead Tuesday, major Chinese banks, including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202525815/delayed CN:601398 -0.23% and Bank of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/209359942/delayed CN:601988 -0.33% will report earnings, which could see share price volatility. ICBC was last up 0.8%, while BOC was trading 0.6% higher.
More broadly, trading is expected to remain choppy until the release of U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday, which could further shed light on the timeline for a U.S. interest rate increase.