Asian markets mostly up but traders on edge after losses

17 November, 2017 12:00 AM printer

HONG KONG: Most Asian markets edged up on Thursday after a recent sell-off across global markets but gains were tempered as the optimism that pushed equities to multi-year highs last week gives way to investor caution.

Prices have been falling for much of the week as the sharp gains of October and early November led to profit-taking and worries about high valuations, while US lawmakers' tax reform struggles are also dampening sentiment, reports AFP.

Eyes are on Washington as Republicans from each chamber of Congress provide differing plans to overhaul the tax system, raising concerns they will not be able to push anything through before the end of the year, as Donald Trump had hoped.

The most recent idea in the Senate is to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate as part of the plan, leading to speculation the legislation could collapse in the same way as their healthcare reforms.

"This is a classic omnibus political stunt to get an unattractive piece of legislation passed by stapling it to something that is likely to get passed," Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, said.

"But, given that such a move was already expressly voted down on the floor of the Senate, and taking into account resistance from House Republicans it may have just made the President's Christmas timetable a little harder to meet."

Failure of the bill could hit world equities, which have rallied on the back of hopes the market-friendly measures would be introduced.
On Wall Street all three indexes were sharply lower a week after posting record highs.

Tokyo, which had fallen for six straight days after hitting a 25-year high on Tuesday, jumped 1.5 percent, while Hong Kong added 0.6 percent and Shanghai put on 0.1 percent.

Sydney was 0.2 percent up and Seoul added 0.6 percent, while Wellington, Taipei and Manila were in positive territory.
However, Singapore shed 0.4 percent.

With oil prices creeping up slightly energy firms in Asia were mixed following this week's big losses in the commodity.