Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.15 percent early in the session as trading houses and banks rose.
Most major Asian indexes on Monday were given a boost by investor optimism that a plan to reduce corporate taxes would be passed stateside.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.15 percent early in the session as trading houses and banks rose. Tech and automaker blue-chips also saw gains. Toyota rose 2.37 percent, Sony gained 2.22 percent and SoftBank climbed 1.14 percent.
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Korea’s Kospi came under slight pressure, trading 0.08 percent under the flat line. Steelmakers traded lower, with Posco and Hyundai Steel down 3.6 percent and 4.68 percent, respectively, even though Samsung Electronics inched higher by 0.36 percent.
Shares of automakers underperformed the broader Kospi index, with Hyundai Motor off 0.32 percent. Yonhap news reported last Friday that Hyundai workers at the automaker’s Ulsan factories would be on strike on Monday and Tuesday after the company failed to meet their demands for a raise in wages.
In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.64 percent as resource stocks gave a boost to the overall index. Rio Tinto climbed 0.98 percent and Fortescue Metals rose 1.75 percent. Banking shares were also higher on Monday, with ANZ rising 1.91 percent after the bank announced it would buy back up to USD 1.5 billion shares on-market.
In the US, Republicans unveiled their final tax plan on Friday as two holdout GOP senators indicated they would support the tax bill after compromises were made. Among the provisions that made the cut was a reduction in the corporate tax rate from the existing 35 percent to 21 percent, with effect from 2018.
Republicans intend to pass the measures by the middle of this week.
US stocks closed at record levels, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 0.58 percent, or 143.08 points, to close at 24,651.74.
The Dollar held onto gains made in the last session. The Dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, rose as high as 93.997 on Friday. At 8:26 a.m. HK/SIN, the Dollar index stood at 94.010.
Against the Japanese currency, the dollar inched higher to trade at 112.74.
Bitcoin takes its place on a bigger stage
Meanwhile, CME launched its bitcoin futures contract at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, or 7 a.m. HK/SIN, under the ticker “BTC.” The front-month contract traded at USD 19,480 at 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN. Spot prices were down around 1.6 percent on the day at USD 18,781.39, according to the CoinDesk index.
That came on the heels of bitcoin futures beginning trade on the Cboe Futures Exchange earlier this month. Those moves come as investor interest in the cryptocurrency grows following the rapid rise in Bitcoin prices this year.
Shares of Obayashi Corp. were off 0.07 percent following Nikkei headlines that Japanese prosecutors are likely to raid the company’s offices as part of a bid-rigging investigation. Other Japanese construction companies Nikkei said was involved in the probe were also lower on the day: Taisei Corporation was down 1.63 percent, Shimizu Corporation shed 0.49 percent and Kajima Corporation fell 2.51 percent.
Meanwhile, stock exchange operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing announced plans on Friday to loosen existing listing rules in a bid to improve competitiveness. In its proposal are plans to allow the listings of biotechnology issuers in the pre-profit stage and to accept issuers with dual share classes, subject to safeguards.
What’s on tap
Here’s the economic calendar for Monday (all times in HK/SIN):
9:30 a.m.: China house price index12:00 p.m.: Malaysia October unemployment rate
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