Donald Trump called for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address but analysts were unsure his Mexican wall row with the Democrats will end anytime soon (Doug Mills)
Hong Kong (AFP) – Shares in Tokyo and Sydney rose Wednesday in another holiday-thinned trading day as investors tracked a positive lead from Wall Street but there was little movement after Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
With most of the region off for the Lunar New Year break there were few catalysts to drive business.
Trump’s annual address touched on a number of issues including the China trade war, North Korea, the Russia investigation and healthcare.
But while he called for bipartisanship, observers said there was little to suggest his standoff with the Democrats over his Mexican border wall can be resolved anytime soon.
Their battle brought the US government to a standstill for more than a month before it was reopened for three weeks, with the two sides unable to reach an agreement.
“President Trump has ten months to get anything done before markets go into election mode and his State of the Union address did not provide much optimism that we will see bipartisanship action help deliver on most if not all of his initiatives,” said OANDA market analyst Edward Moya.
By the end of the day Tokyo was up 0.1 percent, though car giant Toyota sank 0.7 percent after slashing its annual net profit forecast and announcing a dive in nine-month profit.
Sydney finished 0.3 percent up, while Manila jumped 1.6 percent, Mumbai gained 0.6 percent, Bangkok added 0.5 percent and Jakarta was up one percent.
On currency markets the pound was virtually unchanged against the dollar after tumbling Tuesday on weak economic data and growing concerns about Britain leaving the EU without a deal, which analysts warn could be catastrophic.
The prospect of such a scenario has led a number of companies to delay making decisions on new projects, while others have already decided to shift their headquarters or production lines.
The Australian dollar was down more than one percent after the head of the country’s central bank hinted there were unlikely to be any interest rate hikes soon.
“Over the past year, the next-move-is-up scenarios were more likely than the next-move-is-down scenarios. Today, the probabilities appear to be more evenly balanced,” Philip Lowe said.
– Key figures around 0610 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 20,874.06 (close)
Sydney – S&P/ASX 200: UP 0.3 percent at 6,026.10 (close)
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2955 from $1.2953 at 2200 GMT on Tuesday
Australian dollar/dollar: DOWN at 71.54 US cents from 72.35 US cents
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1401 from $1.1403
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.76 yen from 109.97 yen
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP two cents at $53.68 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: FLAT at $61.98 per barrel
New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 25,411.52 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 2.0 percent at 7,177.37 (close)
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