By Kenan Machado
Stock markets in the Asia-Pacific region were stable early Monday after the latest terror attacks in London, though benchmarks in Korea and Australia succumbed to profit taking ahead of elections in the U.K.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.16% was recently down 0.7% while the Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -0.61% was off 0.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.17% was down 0.2%. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.26% was 0.1% higher.
“There seems to be a little bit of fatigue” in markets following the recent gains, said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Bank. Investors are looking ahead to moves by the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank for guidance, he said.
Analysts also expect cautious trading in global markets this week ahead of the U.K. elections on Thursday, especially following Saturday’s attack in London — the third attack in Britain in recent months — which left seven dead and scores injured.
On Sunday, U.K. police said they arrested 12 people in east London in connection with the attacks. Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
On Monday, stocks in Japan opened lower after the benchmark index hit its highest point since August 2015 on Friday. Weaker U.S. job-growth data hurt U.S. Treasury yields and weighed on the dollar against the yen.
But the yen gave up some of its early gains against the dollar — and helped the Nikkei pare losses — with the currency pair at ¥110.51 in morning trade after the dollar fell to as low as ¥110.27.
Among specific stocks in Japan, steel, automobile and brokerage firms were among the biggest decliners, with the continued unwinding of the so-called Trump reflation trade.
Steel maker JFE Holdings /zigman2/quotes/204336633/delayed JP:5411 +0.45% was down 3%, Mitsubishi Motors /zigman2/quotes/202404490/delayed JP:7211 +1.48% lost 2.9% and Nomura Holdings /zigman2/quotes/206251373/delayed JP:8604 +0.09% was down 1.9%.
The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against 16 other currencies, was up 0.1% at 88.37 after Friday dropping to its lowest closing value since Nov. 8, 2016.
In Australia, declines were led by selling in bank stocks.
“Pressure is coming in the index heavyweights, especially in the banks,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
Westpac /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +0.53% was down 2.2%, National Australia Bank /zigman2/quotes/210431826/delayed AU:NAB -0.26% was off 2% and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/205482049/delayed AU:ANZ +0.46% was 1.8% lower.
Trading in Asia was being driven by expectations for a selloff in U.S. shares once markets there open, because profit-taking pressure has been building, McCarthy said.