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Dollar moves, IMF spring meeting, oil prices

People walk past an electronic board displaying the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo on November 10, 2020.

Charly Triballeau | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets rose Wednesday as major indexes in Australia, Japan and South Korea notched gains.

Australia’s ASX 200 advanced 0.6%, with most sectors trading higher. But major banking stocks came under pressure as shares of ANZ declined 0.21% and the National Australia Bank lower by 0.08%. Westpac was slightly above the flatline, while Commonwealth Bank shares advanced 0.51%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.35% while the Topix was up 0.6%.

South Korea’s Kospi added 0.47%. Samsung Electronics shares dipped 0.35% after the chip and smartphone maker issued earnings guidance for the first three months of 2021.

Samsung said it estimated operating profit for the quarter at 9.3 trillion Korean won ($8.3 billion), up 44% from a year ago. The company did not give detailed breakdown, which are due at the end of this month.

Wednesday’s session follows overnight losses on Wall Street, where U.S. stocks fell from record levels.

“US equities softened while European indices outperformed after being closed on Monday. News that half the European population will be able to be vaccinated by June was a shot in the arm for the markets,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note.

The World Bank/International Monetary Fund spring meeting is underway virtually.

The IMF revised up its forecast for the world economy. On Tuesday, the organization said it expects growth at 6% in 2021, up from a January prediction of 5.5%, and Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said that despite lingering uncertainties around the pandemic, a “way out of this health and economic crisis is increasingly visible.”

Analysts at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a Wednesday note that they do not expect the World Bank/IMF meeting to be a major driver of financial markets.

“Financial markets are much calmer than this time last year.  So there is no impetus for Finance ministers (Treasury secretaries) to get together with a hard hitting communique to support confidence in the economic recovery or financial system,” they wrote.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar last traded at 92.332 against a basket of its peers. The dollar index slipped from levels near 93.200 reached in the previous week.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 109.86 per dollar, weakening from an earlier level around 109.72. The Australian dollar traded near flat around $0.7664.

Oil prices slipped Wednesday during Asian trading hours. U.S. crude was higher by 0.29% at $59.50 a barrel while global benchmark Brent were up 0.33% to $62.95.

In the previous session, strong economic data from the U.S. and China helped lift energy prices higher by more than 1%.

Read More: Dollar moves, IMF spring meeting, oil prices

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