Asian Markets Mixed; Japanese Indices Pull Away as Yen Falls

Asian stock benchmarks were mixed on Thursday, with Japanese indices the best performers, after investors Wednesday pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to new records.

U.S. stock futures were little changed, with Dow Jones and S&P 500 futures both recently down 0.01% and Nasdaq 100 futures holding steady. U.S. markets are closed today for Thanksgiving.

The Nikkei 225 closed up 0.94% to 18,333.41 and the Topix closed up 0.86% at 1,459.96, as the dollar strengthened against the yen and other currencies after the tone of Fed minutes released yesterday and strong U.S. durable goods data increased the likelihood of a rate rise. The dollar was recently up 0.28% against the Japanese currency, with one dollar buying ¥112.8200.

Steel makers Kobe Steel, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and JFE were among the main gainers in Tokyo, on optimism about demand that has fueled a rally in the price of iron ore.

The preliminary Nikkei/IHS Markit purchasing managers' index for the Japanese manufacturing sector fell for the first time in six months in November. The index slipped to 51.1 in November from 51.4 in October, with the output component pointing to stagnant industrial production.

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng slipped 0.27% to 22,615.05.

On mainland China the CSI 300 rose 0.36% to 3,487.21.

In Sydney the S&P/ASX 200 closed virtually flat at 5,485.08, up 0.01% on the day. Rio Tinto (RIO) made only marginal gains after it said it plans to generate a further $5 billion of free cash flow over the next five years through new efficiency measures. It also said its capital expenditure will amount to only $3.5 billion this year, less than its previous $4 billion estimate.

The dollar strengthened against most currencies and was recently up 0.24% against the Malaysian ringitt at M$4.4552, having earlier hit its strongest level against the ringitt since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

Brent crude was recently up 0.16% at $49.03 a barrel.

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