Markets

Asian shares focus on Dow 22,000, Caixin services PMI, earnings

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.24 percent to close at a record 22,016.24 on Wednesday, breaching the 22,000 level just 107 trading days after the index cleared the 21,000 mark. Apple shares contributed to the gains in the index after the company’s stock jumped on the back of better-than-expected earnings.

Markets also digested the release of July ADP numbers in the U.S. The private sector added 178,000 jobs in July, just below analyst expectations of 185,000. Job growth for June was revised from 158,000 to 191,000. The data release came ahead of nonfarm payrolls numbers due at the end of the week.

Thursday market movers included Rio Tinto’s Australia-listed shares, which fell 2.2 percent even though the miner reported Wednesday that first-half profit more than doubled on year. Rio Tinto also announced a $1 billion share buyback.

Investors were also expected to focus on Standard Chartered shares listed in Hong Kong after the bank reported earnings after the market close on Wednesday. Standard Chartered said pretax profit in the first half rose 93 percent, although the bank announced it would not begin paying dividends.

On the earnings front, Singapore’s CapitaLand reported total profit after tax and minority interests for the second-quarter was S$579.3 million ($425.7 million), a 97 percent rise on year.

Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison and Cheung Kong Property Holdings were also among the Asian companies reporting results Thursday.

In currencies, the U.S. currency continued to flounder. The dollar index, which tracks the dollar against rival currencies, sat at 92.907 at 8:12 a.m. HK/SIN, after falling as low as 92.548 overnight.

The greenback was flat against the yen after firming overnight, with the U.S. currency last fetching 110.69 yen. Meanwhile, the euro largely held on to gains after strengthening against the dollar overnight. The common currency broke above the $1.19 level overnight, the first time it had done so in around two-and-a-half years. The euro last stood at $1.1846.

The British pound traded at around a 10-month high of $1.13226 ahead of the Bank of England’s monetary policy announcement due during European trading hours. The BOE had surprised markets last month when it voted 5-3 in favor of holding interest rates steady at 0.25 percent, with three policymakers voting for a rise in interest rates.

“U.K. data hasn’t been great with spending, wages and inflation (weakening) since June, but the insistent hawkishness of U.K. policymakers suggests upgrades to their economic forecasts,” BK Asset Management Managing Director of FX Strategy Kathy Lien said in a Thursday note.

Oil prices ceded some ground after climbing almost 1 percent overnight. Brent crude rose 0.23 percent to trade at $52.24 a barrel and U.S. crude edged down 0.18 percent to trade at $49.50 a barrel. Oil had climbed Wednesday following a report that reflected a record level of gasoline demand in the U.S.

The economic calendar for the Asian trading session is fairly light (all times in HK/SIN):

  • 9:30 a.m.: Australia June trade data
  • 9:45 a.m.: Caixin services PMI

Markets will also await a barrage of U.S. data points, including the Markit composite PMI and ISM non-manufacturing PMI, due later in the day.

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