Asia shares up after Yellen speech

HONG KONG — Asian markets mostly rose on Monday, 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 0.28%, or 74.06 points, to 15,613.25 and Seoul put on 0.20%, or 4.19 points, to end at 2,060.89. Hong Kong gained 0.22%, or 54.68 points, to close at 25,166.91.

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

Speaking at the Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Mrs Yellen said even if joblessness has fallen more quickly than expected to 6.2%, there remains "considerable uncertainty about the level of employment" in the world's biggest economy.

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 Mrs 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.

Mrs 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 yen compared with 103.87 yen in New York on Friday.

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

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

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October eased 11 cents to $93.54 while Brent crude for October tumbled 14 cents to $102.15.

Gold traded at $1,277.98 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared to $1,281.40 an ounce late Friday.

In other markets, Bangkok added 0.40%, or 6.16 points, to 1,563.13. Airports of Thailand gained 3.95% to 237 baht, while hospitality company Minor International rose 4.44% to 35.25 baht.

Jakarta ended down 0.27%, or 13.94 points, at 5,184.96. Asis Pacific Fibers lost 3.08% to 63 rupiah, while Bank Permata rose 0.37% to 1,370 rupiah.

Kuala Lumpur slipped 0.46%, or 8.68 points, to close at 1,862.31. Malayan Banking shed 0.20% to 10.08 ringgit, Sime Darby dipped 0.32% to 9.46 while Telekom Malaysia added 0.16% to 6.26 ringgit.

Manila was closed for a public holiday.

Singapore closed up 0.14%, or 4.78 points, to 3,330.28. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation fell 4.04% to S$9.99 while agribusiness company Wilmar International was down 0.32% to S$3.14.

Taipei edged up 0.11%, or 10.52 points, to 9,390.62.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.4% lower at T$125, while Hon Hai Precision was up 0.45% at T$110.5.

Wellington rose 0.30%, or 15.75 points, to 5,182.74. Air New Zealand was up 1.41% at NZ$2.16 and Trade Me rose 1.09% to NZ$3.72.

Mumbai ended flat, edging up 17.47 points to 26,437.02. Cosmetics maker Emami rose 6.03% to 643.55 rupees, while Max India gained 3.54% to 324.40 rupees.

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