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Asia: Markets mixed but Shanghai reopens with a bang

[HONG KONG] Shanghai soared more than one per cent Monday as Chinese trading floors reopened after a long break while other Asian markets were mixed following last week's surprising fall in US jobs.

Geopolitical concerns also returned on worries North Korea will test another long-range missile and US President Donald Trump's remarks suggesting that talking to Kim Jong Un's regime was a waste of time and "only one thing will work".

And the Turkish lira was sitting close to record lows against the dollar as Ankara and Washington each cancelled visa services for the other in a deepening diplomatic row.

Wall Street provided a meek lead for Asia, with the Dow and S&P 500 retreating from record highs in response to figures on Friday showing the US lost 33,000 posts in September - the first drop since 2010.

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However, while the drop compared with a forecast gain of 75,000, analysts pointed to improving wage growth and a further dip in the overall unemployment rate.

They added that the figure was likely an aberration owing to one-off events in the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas.

Shanghai was up 1.2 per cent as investors returned from the week-long Golden Week celebrations and reacted for the first time to the Chinese central bank's decision to cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve as part of a push to help small businesses.

Sydney rose 0.8 per cent and Wellington was up 0.5 per cent, while Manila put on 0.4 per cent.

However, Hong Kong retreated 0.3 per cent and Singapore was 0.2 per cent off.

Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei were closed for public holidays.


Eyes are now turning back to the US-North Korea standoff after a Russian lawmaker said Pyongyang was planning to fire another missile, which could hit the US west coast.

"There was news over the weekend that 'the little rocket man' in North Korea is now capable of launching a missile that can hit the US mainland," Shane Channel, equity and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said in a commentary referring to Mr Trump's name for Kim.

That, added to Mr Trump's remark, led to a return to safe-haven assets with gold up more than one per cent at US$1,285 on Monday.

The dollar held up against its major peers as markets continue to bet on a third interest rate hike this year, likely in December.

The pound faced fresh pressure with uncertainty surrounding Prime Minister Theresa May's future while the euro continues to struggle with the fallout from Catalonia's unofficial vote in favour of independence from Spain, fuelling fears about one of the eurozone's biggest economies.

The greenback also soared more than six pe rcent to 3.8533 lira at one point before easing slightly as Ankara and Washington traded barbs over the arrest of a local staffer at the US embassy in Turkey.

"This latest escalation adds more fuel to the fire after tension was nearing a boil... over US support for Syrian Kurdish militants in the war against ISIS," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at Oanda. Turkey views the Kurdish militants as a terrorist group.