Asia shares mixed, Nikkei hit by strong yen

AFP
File photo shows a pedestrian walking past an electronic board displaying the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong in November 2012
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File photo shows a pedestrian walking past an electronic board displaying the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong in November 2012 (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)

Asian markets were mixed Tuesday with a record close on Wall Street offset by profit-taking, while Japan's Nikkei succumbed to a stronger yen.

Tokyo fell 0.59 percent, or 92.03 points, to 15,521.22 and in the afternoon Hong Kong shed 0.29 percent after hitting a six-year high on Monday.

Shanghai sank 0.99 percent, or 22.17 points, to 2,207.11 on lingering concerns about the economy while expectations of fresh measures to kickstart it fade.

Sydney ended flat, adding 2.7 points to 5,637.6 and Seoul was 0.35 percent higher, putting on 7.16 points to 2,068.05.

US traders reacted positively to weekend comments from Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen on the bank's monetary policy.

Yellen told the Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that despite a sharp fall in joblessness there was "considerable uncertainty about the level of employment" in the economy. That was taken as signalling her commitment to raise rates late next year, rather than earlier as some analysts and policymakers would like.

The prospect of the Fed continuing its accommodative policy cheered US investors, who sent the S&P 500 to a record level. The S&P 500 rose 0.48 percent but ended a tad below the 2,000 level after breaching it for the first time earlier in the day.

The Dow added 0.44 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 0.41 percent to its best close since the dot-com crash 14 years ago.

Asian markets were unable to extend their gains from Monday, however, and the dollar lost its momentum after hitting a seven-month high against the yen.

In Japanese trade the greenback fetched 103.87 yen in Asian trade, compared with 104.01 yen late in New York and well off the 104.18 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The euro bought $1.3210 and 137.20 yen Tuesday against $1.3193 and 137.23 yen in US trade.

The single currency was also under pressure after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted that he could embark on fresh monetary easing measures to kickstart the eurozone, while an index of German business confidence hit a 13-month low.

On oil markets West Texas Intermediate for October delivery rose 25 cents to $93.60 while Brent crude for October gained eight cents to $102.73.

Gold traded at $1,289.82 an ounce at 0700 GMT compared with $1,277.98 an ounce late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei was marginally higher, edging up 3.34 points to 9,393.96.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.4 percent lower at Tw$124.5 while Hon Hai Precision was 0.45 percent off at Tw$110.0.

-- Wellington added 0.25 percent, or 12.89 points, to 5,195.63.

Contact Energy was up 0.36 percent at NZ$5.55 and Air New Zealand slipped 0.46 percent to NZ$2.15.