Hong Kong: Asian stocks were mostly higher on bargain buying Thursday while in Tokyo exporters were boosted after the government intervened in the currency market to curb the yen’s rise.
Tokyo stepped in as the yen edged towards its record post-war high against the dollar, with finance minister Yoshihiko Noda saying the stronger the currency got the worse the impact would be on the ailing Japanese economy.
The yen started to fall shortly after 6:30am, and by 8:05am, the dollar had risen sharply to 78.76 yen from 76.99 earlier.
The Japanese unit also fell against the euro, with the single currency fetching ¥112.75 from an earlier 110.45.
“If the moves continue, it could negatively impact the Japanese economy and financial stability when Japan is making various efforts to reconstruct itself from the impact of the disaster,” Noda told reporters, referring to the March earthquake and tsunami.
“Therefore we carried out currency intervention. Now we will watch market movements closely.”
The last time Japan intervened was in March with its G-7 counterparts after the yen hit a post-war high of 76.25 to the dollar following the earthquake-tsunami disaster.
Thursday’s move came after Noda recently raised concerns about “one-sided” and “excessive” movements in the currency. It also followed an intervention by Switzerland, which stepped in to halt the rise of the franc as investors pour into the safe-haven unit.
The intervention boosted the Nikkei index after two days of big losses and by the break the market was 0.90% higher.
“The market is breathing a sigh of relief for now, but the yen remains firm and investors are expecting more rounds of intervention later in the day,” Takuya Yamada, senior portfolio manager of ITC Investment Partners, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Most other regional bourses were also higher following a worldwide sell-off caused by mounting concerns over the state of the global economy.
Hong Kong gained 0.18% in the morning, Sydney was 0.11% higher and Shanghai rose 0.48% but Seoul slipped 0.19%.
The rises break a two-day losing streak that has been stoked by anaemic data from the United States, Asia and Europe that point to a halt in economic growth, while sovereign debt worries are also fuelling enxiety.
Wall Street also edged higher, with the Dow up 0.25%, the S&P 500 climbing 0.50% and the Nasdaq 0.89% higher. The gains snapped an eight-session losing streak that had seen the Nasdaq and S&P 500 fall below their January 1 levels.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, added 53 cents to 92.46 per barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for September delivery gained 39 cents to $113.62.
Gold opened lower in Hong Kong at $1,664.00-$1,665.00 an ounce, slightly off Wednesday’s close of $1,668.00-$1,669.00.