Asia markets track US surge as Trump fear eases

3 min

Hong Kong (AFP)

Asian markets pushed higher Wednesday, tracking a record close on Wall Street as investor concerns about Donald Trump's lack of domestic policies were eased, while the dollar held gains against the yen.

After a slack start to the year for global markets, US traders took up the reins Tuesday to press on with the November-December Trump rally after the tycoon gave the green light to two big oil pipeline deals.

The new president signed off on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline -- which would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to US Gulf Coast refineries -- and another crossing in North Dakota.

The move reverses decisions taken recently by Barack Obama and is the latest effort to wipe out the former president's legacy.

Also Tuesday it emerged that House Speaker Paul Ryan signalled support for public works spending, while reports surfaced that Senate Democrats will unveil a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, offering the president their support if he backs it.

The developments soothed anxiety on markets that promised economy-firing spending and tax-cutting measures were being put on the back burner by Trump in favour of reviewing global trade deals.

On Wall Street the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended at all-time highs, while the Dow got within spitting distance of breaking the 20,000-point barrier for the first time.

- Dollar claws back -

In Asia on Wednesday Hong Kong rose 0.3 percent, Shanghai edged up 0.1 percent, Sydney added 0.4 percent and Seoul was 0.1 percent higher, while Singapore rallied 0.6 percent.

There were also gains in Wellington, Manila and Jakarta.

Tokyo ended the morning 1.1 percent higher as exporters were supported by a weaker yen.

The dollar flirted with 114 yen late Tuesday before paring the gains but it remains well up from the levels below 113 touched earlier in the day as dealers cheered the events in the US.

However the greenback is down about four percent from its highs seen at the end of last month.

And former top Japan currency official Eisuke Sakakibara warned in a Bloomberg News interview the US unit could fall towards 100 yen by the end of 2017 as Trump's promise of four percent economic growth falls flat.

“Four percent US economic growth is impossible. In all likelihood it’ll remain around two percent or 2.5 percent, and that’ll be the end of Trump fever,” warned Sakakibara, who was dubbed Mr Yen for his influence of exchange rates in the 1990s.

In other forex trade the Canadian dollar rallied more than one percent against the greenback following Trump's oil pipeline decision.

The move also weighed on oil prices in early Asian trade on fears it will add to a global glut of crude, despite the OPEC exporting cartel's agreement in November to cut output.

- Key figures near 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 18,994.33 (break)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,144.12

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 23,012.35

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0728 from $1.0732

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2536 from $1.2521

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.60 yen from 113.81 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 23 cents at $52.95 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 27 cents at $55.27

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 19,912.71 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 7,150.34 (close)