Asia Markets: Asia-Pacific markets start the week with gains

Stock markets across Asia were mostly higher following fresh record closes on Wall Street, with South Korea’s benchmark index leading gains, for now brushing aside concerns of more tension in the Korean Peninsula.

After a dip in risk appetite toward the end of last week, markets regained some upward momentum as global investors sold their safe haven hedges and returned to riskier assets. Korea’s Kospi South Korea’s Kospi SEU, +1.35%  was up 1.1%, adding to Friday’s 0.4% rise, propelled by a 3.1% jump in index heavyweight Samsung Electronics 005930, +4.13%

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.29%  on Friday posted its biggest weekly gain of the year. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.18%  also hit a fresh closing high.

Read: How much longer this stock-market bull run lasts may depend on the Fed’s next move

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.45%   was up 0.4% in afternoon trade, supported by strong gains in bank shares. The country’s heavily-weighted big four banks were up an average of 0.9%.

“The trend to rotate out of materials and into financials exposures seems likely to continue today,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +1.17%  was up 1.1%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 1%. Markets in Japan were closed Monday for a public holiday.

Despite concerns of higher valuations, China’s benchmark indexes were up in the morning session, with the Shanghai Composite Index’s 0.3% gain lifted by gains in alcohol and brokerage shares.

On Friday, a Chinese regulator said it would relax margin requirements and transaction fees on stock-index futures, indicating Beijing’s confidence that the market has largely stabilized since the rout in 2015. But the move has had little impact so far, as additional fund inflows have been incremental, said BOC International analyst Jacky Zhang.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 Index NZ50GR, -0.05%   added just 0.1%, with shares of New Zealand Refining NZR, -3.63%   and Air New Zealand AIR, -1.08%   leading declines, as stock selling continued after a Thursday pipeline rupture at a refinery that services New Zealand’s busiest airport.

More flights at Auckland’s international airport on Monday were being canceled or delayed due to a fuel shortage caused by the pipeline leak. After falling a combined 2% the last three sessions, New Zealand Refining was down 1.6% Monday, after being down over 3% earlier in the session.

More flights at Auckland’s international airport on Monday were being canceled or delayed due to a fuel shortage caused by the pipeline leak. After falling a combined 2% the last three days of last week, New Zealand Refining dropped another 3.2% on Monday.

Meanwhile, flagship carrier Air New Zealand slumped 7.7% in the past four sessions; it was last down an additional 2.5%, putting it at three-month lows.

In foreign exchange, the U.S. dollar JPYUSD, -0.436591%  edged up against a basket of currencies, with the WSJ Dollar Index BUXX, +0.20%   rising 0.1%. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia said it expects the dollar to consolidate this week.

While the Federal Reserve is widely expected to stand pat on rates this week, expectations are for the Federal Open Market Committee to begin cutting the central bank’s balance sheet, though the impact will likely be limited.

“Although this policy represents a real tightening, it is pretty marginal on a month by month basis, almost totally expected, and therefore, should be almost completely priced in,” said Rob Carnell, head of Asia research at ING.

Oil futures started the week down slightly after being little changed on Friday. Still, prices are at their best levels in months.

Oil futures started the week roughly flat, continuing the sideways move since Friday. Still, prices are at their best levels in months.

Analysts said they expect prices to hold steady this week, ahead of a meeting Friday between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers regarding a possible extension of production caps. October Nymex futures CLV7, +0.36%   were last down 6 U.S. cents at $ 49.82 a barrel, while November Brent LCOX7, +0.04%   was down 4 cents at $ 55.58 a barrel.

Among safe haven assets, gold prices GCZ7, -0.45%  were 0.2% lower at $ 1,317.61 a troy ounce, while the Japanese yen USDJPY, +0.44%  was off 0.3% against the U.S. dollar.

Ben Collins contributed to this article.

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