Asia stocks gain, pound hovers at 11-month low on Brexit fears

Asia equities were broadly higher on Tuesday after US stocks neared a record high, while the pound hovered at an 11-month low on concerns over Brexit.

Japan’s Topix index rose 0.2 per cent with the telecommunications sector posting the largest gain, up 2.2 per cent. Shares in technology group Softbank jumped as much as 6 per cent to their highest since November after the company reported a 49 per cent year-on-year rise in operating profit for the first quarter thanks to growing investment gains from its Vision Fund.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was on track to end a five-day losing streak, rising 0.6 per cent with gains across the board. The consumer cyclicals sector rose 2.4 per cent as Macau casino stocks gained while financial stocks rose 0.7 per cent. 

Mainland Chinese markets were also brighter with the CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen major companies up 0.8 per cent after falling 1.3 per cent in the previous session on US-China trade fears. Trade tensions will come into focus again on Wednesday when Beijing releases its July trade figures.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.2 per cent as the basic materials sector shed 0.9 per cent. Amcor fell as much as 5.8 per cent, its worst session in more than two years, after it agreed on Monday to take over US rival Bemis for $6.8bn in an all-stock deal that executives said would give the Australian packaging group a stronger foothold in the Americas. 

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 50 rose 0.4 per cent, leaving it just shy of the record high set in late January, while the Nasdaq Composite ended 0.6 per cent higher. 

In currencies, the dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of peers was flat while the yen strengthened slightly to ¥111.31 per dollar. 

Sterling was hovering at $1.294, having touched its lowest in 11 months in the wake of comments over fears of a no-deal Brexit following comments from the UK trade secretary Liam Fox.

China’s onshore renminbi, which is permitted to trade 2 per cent either side of a daily mid point set by the country’s central bank, was 0.2 per cent weaker at Rmb6.8609 while the offshore renminbi was 0.1 per cent weaker at Rmb6.8708. Those moves came despite the People’s Bank of China’s bid to stabilise the currency on Friday. 

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