The Japanese and Australian markets staged minor rallies overnight as the U.S. dollar strengthened. With the dollar trading at (just) above the psychological ¥100 threshold, recently at ¥100.15, both the Nikkei 225 and broader Topix indices were in positive territory.
The Nikkei closed up 0.36% at 16,545.82 while the Topix finished the day at 1,295.67, up 0.38%. In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 closed up 0.34% at 5,526.68.
Australian banks managed to recover from a body-blow earlier in the day from Moody's Investors Service which said it was revising its outlook for the sector to negative from stable - though retaining its AAA rating. By the end of trading National Australia Bank (NABZY) (NAUBF) was up 0.11% at A$27.30, although Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANEWF) (ANZBY) was still 0.15% below the previous day's close at A$26.68.
And the recent oil rally came too late for Australian oil and gas companies Woodside Petroleum (WOPEF) (WOPEY) and Santos (STOSF) (SSLTY) , both of which announced first half results Friday. Woodside recorded January to June net after tax profit of $340 million - down 50% year-on-year - despite lowering unit production costs by 38%. Santos reported a net loss of $1.1 billion for the first six months, compared with a $30 million net profit a year ago. Santos closed down 2.02% at A$4.85, while Woodside managed a minor gusher, with its stock rising 1.23% to A$28.90, after the company pointed to its "robust position" for 2017 and low costs.
In Hong Kong, where the exchange has announced plans to introduce a circuit-breaker mechanism from next week, though one that is sufficiently restricted to be for genuine emergencies only, the Hang Seng was down 0.30% at 22,954.10. The exchange said the new volatility control mechanism is intended to prevent "extreme price volatility arising from major trading errors and other unusual incidents." It only applies to individual stocks, not to the whole market.
In China the combined Shenzhen and Shanghai CSI 300 was almost flat, closing just 0.02% above the previous day at 3,365.02.
On the futures market, the Dow Jones mini was recently down 0.13% at $18,541.00. Brent Crude slipped after the recent oil rally, falling 0.14% to $50.82, but West Texas Intermediate Crude was up 0.23% at $48.33.