In the currency market, the dollar traded up against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index at 94.868, compared with levels near 94.100 late last week.
The Australian dollar slipped against the greenback, trading at $0.7592 as of 11:14 a.m. HK/SIN, with some commentators suggesting the Aussie took a hit after Moody’s Investor Service cut its outlook on the country’s domestic banks to negative from stable last week.
Stephen Innes, a senior foreign exchange trader at OANDA, said in a Monday note that the currency reactions to rating downgrades tended to be short-lived. But Innes added that the “higgledy–piggledy price action of the past few sessions would indicate that traders are at ‘minimum’ and are starting to re-think the low volatility carry strategy that is underpinning the Australian dollar.”
The currency retreated from highs over $0.77 touched last week in the wake of stronger jobs report, suggesting that Aussie-dollar bears were “gradually awakening from hibernation and may believe the Aussie is topping,” said Innes.
Elsewhere, reports out of Japan over the weekend suggested that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) might cut rates further into negative territory at its next meeting in September in a bid to prop up the country’s moribund economy.
In an interview with Sankei newspaper, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the BOJ’s negative rate policy, introduced earlier this year, has not reached its limits, according to a Reuters report of the interview.
Japanese exporters were mixed despite a relatively weaker yen. While Toyota advanced 1.11 percent, Honda gained 1.52 percent and Sony was up 0.98 percent, shares of Mitsubishi Motors were down 1.06 percent and Canon shares fell 0.67 percent.
In company news, China’s biggest home builder, China Vanke, said on Sunday its net profit rose 10 percent in the six months to the end of June, reported Reuters. Vanke has been embroiled in a high-profile battle for control of the company.
Investors appeared to cheer the uptick in profit numbers, as Shenzhen-listed Vanke shares were up 1.18 percent, while the Hong Kong-listed shares added 0.74 percent.
Oil prices were also likely to be in focus after surging dramatically in the past two weeks due to talk of a potential OPEC supply freeze, especially after the cartel’s biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, last week said it was on board with discussing actions if prices remained low.
But analysts pointed out the market has little expectation that OPEC would act at its upcoming meeting in September.
Oil prices fell on Monday morning during Asian hours. U.S. crude futures were down 1.15 percent at $47.96 a barrel on Monday early morning, while global benchmark Brent was off 1.47 percent to $50.13.
— Patti Domm contributed to this report.
Asia markets mixed as traders eye Yellen’s speech at Jackson Hole on Friday – CNBC}