Asian markets mostly mixed at the start of the week

<p>Asian stocks were mostly higher in early afternoon trading. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was pointing to a 0.2% gain with one hour of trading […]</p>

Asian stocks were mostly higher in early afternoon trading. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was pointing to a 0.2% gain with one hour of trading remaining in Sydney.

Australia’s S&P/ASX200 index, having outperformed regional peers over the past few sessions, was flat in late trading after being up by as much as 1% in the morning. BHP Billiton – being too statistically significant to the index, was last trading up around 2% –likely to hold A$35 per share where it has been meeting resistance for a few months due to its natural gas exposure to the US.

The Australian dollar was last buying 1.0391 against the US dollar, falling back below the 1.04 level it had exceed earning in the morning, as the Reserve Bank of Australia meets tomorrow to decide on interest rates.

Chances of a 0.25% rate cut are firming although market consensus is still mixed. The Euro remains strong, although slightly weakening, at 1.3338 against the dollar, with an intra-day high of 1.3376. Gold and copper were before relatively flat.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Japanese Yen continued its depreciation against the US dollar as short positions build. The US dollar was last buying 83.05, breaking through the 82-83 range which been holding over the past week.

Japan’s Prime Minister said he hopes the Bank of Japan continues to take bold action after weaker than expected economic numbers out today. The Bank of Japan said in a statement that February easing had certain positive impacts on market business sentiment.

It also said it is too early to assess overall impact on that particular easing on the economy with more time needed – comments combining to cause Yen depreciation.

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