Asia markets mostly up ahead of Fed, dollar slips on Alabama poll
HONG KONG, Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday as investors await the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting, but the dollar slipped as a shock Democrat poll win in a staunch Republican senate seat fuelled fears about Donald Trump's tax cut plans.The Dow and S&P 500 clocked up records on Wall Street, lifted by financials ahead of an expected interest rate hike by the Fed.
Bloomberg News late Tuesday reported Republican senators as saying lawmakers in both houses of Congress were making progress in reconciling two tax reform bills and a final draft could be agreed imminently and it could go to a vote by next Tuesday.
Bets on the market-friendly tax cuts being introduced helped drive a surge in global markets this year and while equities have stuttered in recent weeks analysts suggested more gains could come.
However, Doug Jones' victory over the controversial Roy Moore in the usually deep-red Alabama senate vote cut the Republicans' majority to 51-49, meaning any wavering could see them fail to push the tax cuts through.
That sent the dollar falling from 113.51 yen to as low as 113.13 yen before it edged back slightly."We could be in for a brush of bad news for the dollar with the latest Alabama election results shifting to Democrat Doug Jones," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.
"Given that this result could present some headwinds to US equity markets, dollar negativity will most likely be expressed through the dollar-yen."
Tokyo fell 0.5 percent by the close while Singapore shed 0.2 percent.But Hong Kong rallied in the afternoon to sit 1.4 percent higher in late trade, while Shanghai closed up 0.7 and Sydney rose 0.1 percent.Seoul gained 0.8 percent, while there were also rises in Taipei, Wellington and Manila.
- Bitcoin stabilises -
Traders are awaiting the end of the Fed's two-day meeting, which is widely expected to see the central bank lift borrowing costs again, though the crucial event is outgoing chair Janet Yellen's statement.
Market-watchers will be dissecting her comments for signals about next year's timetable for lifting rates but with the rate rise already baked into prices, there was little movement in the dollar in Asia.
Bitcoin edged up slightly to $16,981 according to Bloomberg News, with the cryptocurrency seeing a degree of stability in recent days following this month's stratospheric rise to multiple records.
However, while there are warnings of a massive bubble bursting, some analysts say the digital unit could continue to rally, having already increased 20-fold this year.
"Bitcoin has fixed supply and growing demand. Think of it less as a currency and more as a stock which has a fixed supply of shares on issue and increasing demand. What happens then? Prices rise," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.
The unit debuted on a major exchange at the weekend, with futures contracts on the unit appearing on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, while it is also expected to list on the rival Chicago Mercantile Exchange next week.
- Key figures around 0720 GMT -
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 22,758.07 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.4 percent at 29,208.13
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,303.04 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1756 from $1.1746 at 2145 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3326 from $1.3321
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.38 yen from 113.51 yen
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 38 cents at $57.52 per barrel
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 54 cents at $63.88 per barrel
New York - DOW: UP 0.5 percent at 24,504.80 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,500.41 (close)