Asia opens mostly lower; British pound slips on poll results ahead of UK election

Asia opens mostly lower; British pound slips on poll results ahead of UK election
Stocks in Asia mostly lower after trading sideways in the last session

Stocks in Asia were mostly lower in early Wednesday trade, with the British pound down on new poll results that showed UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party could potentially lose its majority in parliament.

Ahead of an election next week, the Conservatives could lose 20 of the seats it currently holds while the Labour Party could gain 30 additional seats, according to the poll by YouGov.

This would result in a loss of the Tories' overall majority at parliament, The Times newspaper reported.

The British pound traded at US$1.2806 (S$1.3) in Asia following the news compared to highs of US$1.2867 seen in the overnight session. The pound had traded at levels around the US$1.29 handle last week, but slipped to a one-month low last Friday after polls showed May's lead narrowing over Labour.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 traded lower by 0.42 per cent while the Kospi dipped 0.34 per cent in early Wednesday trade.

The S&P/ASX 200 was largely steady, trading higher by just 0.07 per cent.

In economic news, Japan industrial production for April rose 4 per cent from last month, compared to the 4.3 per cent estimated by a Reuters poll.

The yen was slightly stronger, with the greenback fetching as little as 110.78 compared to around 110.84 earlier.

China manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMI for the month of May is due at 9:00 a.m.

South Korea's LG Display was flat in early trade after jumping in the last session. The jump in share price followed news the company was "reviewing" an increase in its investments in flexible organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen production, the Financial Times reported.

In other currency news, the dollar index traded at 97.435 at 8:00 a.m. HK/SIN.

"The dollar index remains under pressure despite drifting to a seven-night high overnight. The shallow retracement can be partly explained by lower liquidity due to (the) three-day weekend in the US and weakness in the euro, neither of which are compelling reasons to buy the dollar," ThinkMarkets Senior Market Analyst Matt Simpson said in a Wednesday morning note.

Brent crude added 0.15 per cent to trade at US$51.92 a barrel while US crude was mostly flat, adding 0.02 per cent to trade at US$49.67. Prices of Brent crude had fallen almost 1 per cent in the overnight session on worries about an oversupply in the oil markets.

After the long weekend, Wall Street closed lower on the release of key economic data stateside.


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