Asia shares mostly higher after Greek vote, dollar up after Yellen
TOKYO – Asian stocks were mostly higher on Thursday after the Greek parliament approved a bailout plan while the dollar stood tall after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reinforced expectations for a US rate hike.
Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent, as did Australian shares. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.2 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat, with the focus on how Chinese shares will fare when they begin trading.
The Greek parliament passed a sweeping bundle of austerity measures demanded by European partners, a price to pay for opening talks on a multi-billion euro bailout package near-bankrupt Athens needs to stay in the euro zone.
The euro, already beaten down overnight against the dollar by Yellen’s rate views, showed limited reaction to the Greek vote outcome which did not surprise many in the market.
The European common currency stood flat at $1.0954 after shedding 0.5 percent overnight. The dollar traded at 123.91 yen and in reach of a near three-week high of 123.97.
In her semiannual testimony to Congress on Wednesday, Yellen repeated her view that the Fed will likely hike interest rates this year if the U.S. economy expands as expected, and cited improvement in the labour market.
“Not only did Yellen confirm that rates will rise this year but it is her view that waiting too long would mean rates would have to rise at a faster pace later,” Kathy Lien, managing director of FX Strategy for BK Asset Management, wrote.
“She prefers to start earlier to allow for a more gradual rate path. As a result every FOMC meeting this year including September is a live meeting at which the central bank could raise rates.”
It was a different story for Canada, which saw its central bank on Wednesday cut key interest rates for a second time this year amid a flagging economy.
The Canadian dollar was at C$1.2922 to the greenback after touching C$1.2958, its lowest since March 2009.
The New Zealand dollar slumped under a similar predicament after weaker-than-expected inflation data cemented expectations for a rate cut there as early as next week.
The kiwi skidded to $0.6560, a low not seen since late 2009.
In commodities, crude oil rebounded modestly after sliding overnight on expectations increased exports from Iran will add to a global supply glut and on rising inventories at the delivery hub at Cushing, Oklahoma. [O/R]
US crude rose 0.4 percent to $51.59 a barrel after dropping 3 percent on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme between six world powers and Iran is expected to result in the lifting of sanctions, which have limited sales of Iranian oil for several years, in early 2016. -Reuters