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Asian shares mostly up after Yellen speech

Asian markets mostly rose on Monday (Aug 25), while the dollar hit multi-month highs against the yen and euro after the US Federal Reserve chief seemed to indicate a shift towards an interest rate rise sooner than expected.

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose on Monday (Aug 25), while the dollar hit multi-month highs against the yen and euro after the US Federal Reserve chief seemed to indicate a shift towards an interest rate rise sooner than expected.

While Janet Yellen's speech on Friday said slackness in the jobs market would likely staunch inflation, investors noted her acknowledgement of calls for an early rate rise. Analysts said this may suggest she is thinking of such a move.

Tokyo climbed 0.48 per cent, or 74.06 points, to 15,613.25 and Seoul put on 0.20 per cent, or 4.19 points, to end at 2,060.89. Hong Kong gained 0.22 per cent, or 54.68 points, to close at 25,166.91.

However, Sydney shed 0.19 per cent, or 10.7 points, to 5,634.9 and Shanghai dipped 0.51 per cent, or 11.54 points, to 2,229.27.

Speaking at the Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellen said even if unemployment has fallen more quickly than expected to 6.2 per cent, there remains "considerable uncertainty about the level of employment". That signalled her commitment to the Fed's timetable for raising rates late next year, rather than earlier as some analysts and policymakers would like.

However, Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Securities in Tokyo, told Dow Jones Newswires: "Her comments at Jackson Hole were balanced, and took into consideration the positions of the more hawkish members of the Fed."

And Kathleen Brooks at Forex.com said dealers took account of the uncertainty surrounding labour market indicators which Yellen mentioned in her speech. "The market seems to perceive this indecision to be a subtle shift away from the ultra-dovish stance Yellen has taken in the past," she said.

Yellen's comments pushed the dollar above 104 yen for the first time since April and to the strongest level since January.

In afternoon Tokyo trade the greenback bought ¥104.10 compared with ¥103.87 in New York on Friday.

The Dow eased 0.22 per cent on Friday and the S&P 500 shed 0.20 per cent. The Nasdaq added 0.14 per cent.

The euro was at US$1.3190 - just shy of an 11-month low against the dollar - and ¥137.27, against US$1.3241 and ¥137.60.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October eased 11 cents to US$93.54 while Brent crude for October tumbled 14 cents to US$102.15. Gold traded at US$1,276.97 an ounce at 0810 GMT compared to US$1,281.40 an ounce late on Friday.

In other markets:

-- Bangkok added 0.40 per cent, or 6.16 points, to 1,563.13.

Airports of Thailand gained 3.95 per cent to 237.00 baht, while hospitality company Minor International rose 4.44 per cent to 35.25 baht.

-- Jakarta ended down 0.27 per cent, or 13.94 points, at 5,184.96.

Asis Pacific Fibers lost 3.08 per cent to 63 rupiah, while Bank Permata rose 0.37 per cent to 1,370 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur slipped 0.46 per cent, or 8.68 points, to close at 1,862.31.

Malayan Banking shed 0.20 per cent to 10.08 ringgit, Sime Darby dipped 0.32 per cent to 9.46 while Telekom Malaysia added 0.16 per cent to 6.26 ringgit.

-- Manila was closed for a public holiday.

-- Singapore closed up 0.14 per cent, or 4.78 points, to 3,330.28.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation fell 4.04 per cent to S$9.99 while agribusiness company Wilmar International was down 0.32 per cent to S$3.14.

-- Taipei edged up 0.11 per cent, or 10.52 points, to 9,390.62.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.4 per cent lower at NT$125.0, while Hon Hai Precision was up 0.45 per cent at NT$110.5.

-- Wellington rose 0.30 per cent, or 15.75 points, to 5,182.74.

Air New Zealand was up 1.41 per cent at NZ$2.16 and Trade Me rose 1.09 per cent to NZ$3.72.

-- Mumbai ended flat, edging up 17.47 points to 26,437.02.

Cosmetics maker Emami rose 6.03 per cent to 643.55 rupees, while Max India gained 3.54 per cent to 324.40 rupees.

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