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Safe-haven yen hovers near 1-1/2 year high as markets flail

News Date: 5/4/2016 02:03:56
Asian markets tumbled on Tuesday, following the steps of Wall Street after oil prices shed over two percent yesterday, while investors remain worried about a possible interest rate hike this month from the Federal Reserve, which would sap liquidity from the markets and lead to steeper falls for stocks across the world.

The yen jumped half a percent against the dollar to trade at 110.81, near a 1-1/2 year high at 110.71. Gold futures similarly advanced eight dollars, or 0.70% to trade at $1,227 an ounce, while silver futures tagged along, powering up 18 cents, or 1.21% to move around $15.12 an ounce.

Asian shares suffered wide losses, with Japan's Nikkei tumbling to a six-week low at 15,728, down a hefty 2.47% on the day, while Australian shares gave up 1.70%. South Korea's KOSPI index lost 0.70%, but China's Shanghai index bucked the trend, rising 1.28% on hopes of government stimulus.

Wall Street closed lower yesterday, dragged down by energy shares in particular, with Dow Jones retreating 55 points, or 0.31% to end at 17,737. NASDAQ Composite skidded 22 points, or 0.46% to close at 4,891. S&P 500 slid six points, or 0.32% to 2,066, after hitting its highest in 2016 last week.

Investors wait for an array of important economic data today, with Britain's services PMI expected to surge to 53.9 in March from February's 52.7, which would be very positive for the pound.

From the U.S., the Final Services PMI is forecast to have stayed the same in March at 51.0 as February, which wouldn't roil the markets, while the dollar is expected to remain pressured due to expectations of delayed rate hikes by the Fed.

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