In the U.S., tax reform was back in the spotlight after House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that a plan from Republicans would be released the week of Sept. 25.
While “nothing concrete” was announced, “there is a growing feeling that something will be done amid [President Donald] Trump’s bipartisan approach along with the need for Republicans to score some runs ahead of next year’s election,” said National Australia Bank Currency Strategist Rodrigo Catril in a morning note.
Optimism over tax reform led to yields of the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rising to 2.19 percent on Wednesday, above the 2.17 percent seen in the prior session.
The dollar on Thursday extended gains after getting a lift from developments out of Washington overnight. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of rival currencies stood at 92.462 at 12.43 p.m. HK/SIN, a touch above Wednesday’s close of 92.407. The dollar index had traded around the 91 handle seen earlier this week.
The dollar was flat against the yen, with the currency last fetching 110.45 yen compared to levels around 110.46 seen in the previous session.
Investors also noted the bounce in U.S. producer prices in August, although the 0.2 percent increase on month was weaker than expected.
On Wall Street, stocks closed at record levels despite mostly flat trade during the session, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising 0.18 percent, or 39.32, to close at 22,158.18.
Despite a fall in Apple stock on Wednesday, the company’s South Korean suppliers continued their climb following the unveiling of the newest iPhone on Tuesday. Samsung Electronics was up 1.01 percent, SK Hynix advanced 0.92 percent and LG Display jumped 2.74 percent. Taiwan-listed Apple suppliers were mixed after falling in the last session: Largan Precision edged up 0.35 percent while Hon Hai Precision Industry edged down 0.87 percent.
In corporate news, Toshiba said Wednesday it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with a consortium including Bain Capital to expedite negotiations to sell Toshiba Memory Corporation, its flash memory unit. Toshiba shares fell 3.32 percent.
Here’s the economic calendar for Thursday (all times HK/SIN):
- 2:30 p.m.: India wholesale price index
- 4:00 p.m.: China new yuan loans
- 4:40 p.m.: Hong Kong industrial production
Outside of Asia, the Bank of England will announce its interest rate decision at 7:00 p.m. HK/SIN. The central bank is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged. The unemployment rate in the country dropped to 4.3 percent in the three months ending in July, but wage growth failed to impress, Reuters reported.
On the energy front, U.S. crude edged down 0.16 percent to trade at $49.22 a barrel after settling more than $1 higher overnight. Brent crude lost 0.25 percent to trade at $55.02. Gains in oil prices on Wednesday came after the International Energy Agency said the oversupply of crude was beginning to shrink, according to Reuters.