Hong Kong: Asian stock markets dropped Thursday as mostly positive economic news in the US failed to inspire investors and the dollar tumbled to a 14-year low against the Japanese yen.
Gold, meanwhile, hit a new record high of $1,196.8 an ounce as investors increased their bets on commodities to hedge against the sinking dollar.
Concerns the greenback will continue to languish were running high following indications the US wasn’t overly concerned about its currency’s slide and will keep interest rates at ultra low levels for some time.
That helped dragged the dollar as low as 86.27 yen its weakest since July 1995. The rising Japanese currency in turn hit shares of major exporters like Toyota and Canon whose overseas profits and competitiveness erode with a stronger yen.
Most major markets were lower throughout the region, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average losing 58.40 points, or 0.6%, to 9,383.24 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shedding 242.19 points, or 1.1%, to 22,369.61.
In China, Shanghai’s benchmark fell 68.81, or 2.1%, to 3,222.25. Markets in Australia, Singapore and Taiwan were modestly lower.
Overnight in the US, a drop in unemployment claims and a rise in home sales lifted stocks in light trading ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday, when US markets are closed.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.69, or 0.3%, to 10,464.40, its second gain in three days and its best finish since October 2008.
The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.98, or 0.5%, to 1,110.63, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.87, or 0.3%, to 2,176.05.
Oil prices fell to near $77 a barrel Thursday in Asia, with benchmark crude for January delivery down 67 cents to $77.29 a barrel. The contract rose $1.94 on Wednesday.
In currencies, the dollar was lower at 86.62 yen from 87.35 yen. The euro traded moderately lower at $1.5103 from $1.5132.