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Asia markets take breather, dollar holds up after rally

By AFP
media Pyongyang has warned it will speed up its weapons programme in response to UN sanctions on Kim Jong-Un's regime following recent nuclear and missile tests KCNA VIA KNS/AFP

Asian investors eased off the pedal Wednesday after their recent gains while the dollar held up against the yen as North Korea kept itself in the mix by warning it would ramp up its nuclear weapons programme in response to fresh UN sanctions.

While Tokyo was able to kick on thanks to a further weakening of the yen, traders were unwilling to track a record close for all three main Wall Street indexes.

The latest gains have been fuelled by relief that Hurricane Irma did not hammer Florida as badly as feared and that the North Korea crisis had settled somewhat after its recent provocative nuclear and missile tests.

However, Pyongyang continued to take up attention when it vowed Wednesday to accelerate its weapons drive after the "evil" Security Council sanctions.

President Donald Trump had earlier warned of more measures against Kim Jong-Un's regime, while the European Union said it would push ahead with further moves.

In equities trade Tokyo ended the morning 0.5 percent higher as exporters benefited from the weaker yen. The greenback broke back above 110 yen Tuesday after last week's sell-off saw it tumble to the 10-month lows around 107.30 yen.

Sydney added 0.4 percent and Seoul was 0.1 percent higher but Hong Kong slipped 0.6 percent.

In other currency trading the pound extended gains after hitting a one-year high against the dollar on the back of a strong British inflation reading, while it was also given support by the return of optimism to markets.

However, OANDA head of Asia-Pacific trading Stephen Innes issued a word of caution after the recent run of global volatility.

"Ultimately this buoyant risk sentiment should be cheered, but forex traders remain in the Nervous Nellie camp waiting for the next chaotic patch given the evolving narratives," he warned.

"A word of caution to those enjoying this unexpected sea of tranquillity: the next few weeks and months come with significant risk."

The release later this week of US inflation figures will be closely followed as the Federal Reserve ponders another interest rate hike and the winding in of its stimulus programme.

Analysts said policymakers could have a little more time to make a move in light of Hurricane Irma in Florida and last month's Harvey in Texas, which could skew the data the Fed relies on to make its decision.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 19,869.82 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.6 percent at 27,819.68

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,372.92

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1971 from $1.1964 at 2130 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.02 from 110.18 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3289 from $1.3280

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP six cents at $48.29 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN six cents at $54.21

New York - DOW: UP 0.3 percent at 22,118.86 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 7,400.69 (close)

 
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