Posts Tagged ‘Jakarta’

Mattis’ visit a harbinger of enhanced US engagement in Asia? — Fears over lower US military presence

February 2, 2018

By Francis Chan
The Straits Times

Jakarta trip a start to easing fears over lower US military presence

Francis Chan US Defence Secretary James Mattis pitched his visit to Indonesia as an opportunity for him to, in his own words, “listen… and understand” what the United States can do for South-east Asia’s largest nation.

His trip, which includes a stop in Vietnam, comes amid concerns over an erosion of United States military presence in this part of the world, while China continues its own aggressive expansion in the region.

It also follows US President Donald Trump’s decision last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a controversial move Indonesia strongly and publicly opposes.

Still, Jakarta rolled out the red carpet, literally, for Mr Mattis, who was granted face-time not only with Indonesia’s top three defence officials, but also President Joko Widodo on Tuesday.

Washington will see this as a positive sign from the vast archipelagic state, home to the world’s largest Muslim population.

Indonesia can be a key US partner when addressing challenges ranging from rising Islamic extremism to maritime security, as well as to counter China’s territorial ambitions in South-east Asia.

Befittingly, Mr Mattis chose Indonesia as his first stop in the region just days after the release of a new National Defence Strategy (NDS) plan last week.

Much of the NDS will remain secret, but an unclassified summary reveals a clear prioritisation of China and Russia as strategic threats or competitors over, say terrorism, as the primary concern for US national security.

It also includes a focus for the US to build partnerships and strengthen alliances with countries such as Indonesia.

To that end, the retired four-star US Marines general had to do more than just lend a ear during his visit.

In remarks after meeting Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, Mr Mattis referred to a part of the contested South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea – a move likely to be noted by Beijing.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims. Indonesia was never a party to the territorial dispute, but had to assert itself after Beijing claimed parts of the waters off the resource-rich Natuna Islands are part of its “traditional fishing grounds”.

In response, Jakarta named waters in its Exclusive Economic Zone, just off its northern perimeter, the North Natuna Sea.

The US acceptance of the name, which has no legal consequence, is a massive geopolitical win for Indonesia as it seeks to politely fend off Chinese ambitions in the waterway, through which about US$5 trillion (S$6.5 trillion) in cargo passes every year.

Another boost to US-Indonesia defence relations was when Mr Mattis told Mr Ryamizard, a fellow four-star general, that the US military may consider working with Indonesian Special Forces, better known as Kopassus, again.

The US had placed restrictions on Kopassus following allegations of past human rights violations by its troops in the late 1990s.

The lifting of the ban would be well-received by Indonesia’s military elite, including several retired generals who play key roles in the Joko Widodo administration.

Mr Mattis will also be taking back to Washington a wish-list from Jakarta, which includes the sale of advanced weapons systems and help to set up an intelligence network to support the region’s counter-terrorism efforts, as well as calls for the US not to provoke North Korea and rethink its position on Jerusalem.

This presents the US with an opportunity to not only reinforce ties with Indonesia but also show that Mr Mattis’ visit is a harbinger of enhanced US engagement in Asia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline ‘Mattis’ visit a harbinger of enhanced US engagement in Asia?’

People injured after collapsed structure at Indonesia Stock Exchange — People say they felt a tremor just before a mezzanine floor collapsed into the building’s lobby

January 15, 2018


Ambulances are seen following reports of a collapsed structure inside the Indonesian Stock Exchange building in Jakarta. (Reuters)

JAKARTA: A college student visiting the Jakarta Stock Exchange says she felt a tremor just before a mezzanine floor collapsed into the building’s lobby, with the debris hitting and injuring some of her friends.

“We were visiting the Jakarta Stock Exchange as part of our study tour when the structure suddenly collapsed, causing chaos,” a student from Palembang in Sumatra, identified as Ade, told MetroTV.
She said some of her friends suffered head wounds and broken bones.
Figures given by spokespeople for three hospitals show more than 50 people were injured.
Dozens of police officials were cordoning off the two-tower, multi-story complex as many people ran away and others were seen sitting on steps outside the lobby.
Director of the stock exchange Alpino Kianjaya declined to comment on the incident. The markets have reopened for the afternoon session.
Images circulating on social media showed a mangled metal structure that had collapsed around a Starbucks cafe near the entrance to the lobby.
Jakarta police said they were seeking more information on the incident.

Floor at Indonesia’s stock exchange collapses — Injured being treated on outside lawn

January 15, 2018


© AFP | Map locating the Indonesian stock exchange where a floor has collapsed.

JAKARTA (AFP) – A floor at Indonesia’s stock exchange collapsed into the building’s lobby on Monday, injuring an unknown number of people, according to media reports.

“We are still investigating the cause, but for now our priorities are the casualties,” Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told Metro TV.

Footage aired by TV stations showed several people lying on the ground and being carrying outside the building.

The police spokesman did not say how many were injured but added that there were no reports of deaths so far.

Television news footage showed people panicking and screaming as officials tried to evacuate the area amid piles of debris.

A reporter from Metro TV, who was in the building to cover the stock market, said the incident happened shortly after noon local time (0500 GMT).

“There was a lound banging so people who were inside immediately ran outside of the building,” said journalist Marlia Zein.

The structure appeared to be an internal balcony or mezzanine floor.

It collapsed on to the ground level of the complex?s second tower, Indonesian Stock Exchange spokesman Rheza Andhika told Bloomberg, adding that it had not been an explosion.

The Indonesia Stock Exchange is located in the centre of Jakarta, and the local office of the World Bank is also housed on the 12th floor of the complex, according to its website.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoor

Floor collapsed at the Jakarta Stock Exchange in Indonesia



JAKARTA, Indonesia—A mezzanine balcony collapsed during lunch hour on Monday in the busy lobby of the Indonesia Stock Exchange, police said, injuring an unknown number of people and forcing the building’s evacuation.

The cause of the collapse wasn’t immediately clear. Authorities said it wasn’t caused by a bomb or fire. The cause was under investigation. Ambulance sirens rang out in the area as injured people were taken to three area hospitals.

Indonesia Stock Exchange officials said the afternoon trading session would continue as normal following the routine 90-minute lunch break.

The collapse occurred at about 12:20 p.m. inside the entrance, opposite the main doors and security desk of Tower II at the exchange complex.

Thousands of Indonesians again protest Trump’s Jerusalem move

December 10, 2017


Image may contain: one or more people

Protesters hold a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, to condemn the U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thousands protested outside the U.S. Embassy in the Indonesian capital on Sunday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Leaders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s announcement, including Western allies who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence.

Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority countries in Asia have rallied in recent days to condemn the U.S. move.

Israel maintains that all of Jerusalem is its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state and say Trump’s move has left them completely sidelined.

Palestinian people were among the first to recognize Indonesia’s independence in 1945, Sohibul Iman, president of the controversial Islamist opposition Prosperous Justice Party which organized the rally, told protesters.

 Image result for Sohibul Iman, indonesia, photos
Sohibul Iman at a Protest against US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Indonesia should be more proactive in “urging the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) member states and U.N. Security Council and the international community to respond immediately with more decisive and concrete political and diplomatic actions in saving the Palestinians from the Israeli occupation and its collaborator, the United States of America,” Iman said.

“Indonesia as the world’s largest Muslim country has the largest responsibility toward the independence of Palestine and the management of Jerusalem,” he told reporters, adding that he hoped Indonesia would take a leading role within the OIC on the matter.

“Trump has disrupted world peace. It’s terrible,” one protester, Yusri, told Reuters.

The decision was “a major disaster for the Palestinian people, while the Palestinian’s own rights have been taken away for a long time,” said Septi, a student at the rally.

Violence erupted for a third day in Gaza on Saturday in response to Trump’s decision, which overturned decades of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.

Indonesia’s foreign minister left for Jordan on Sunday to meet the Palestinian and Jordanian foreign ministers “to convey Indonesia’s full support for Palestine”.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Thousands of Muslims in Asia protest against Trump’s Jerusalem plan

December 8, 2017

Protests in Malaysia — Photo: AFP – Kamarul Akhir

JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia joined rallies on Friday to condemn Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as authorities tightened security outside U.S. embassies.

Leaders in both Asian countries have joined a global chorus of voices condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s move.

Several thousand protesters, some shouting anti-U.S. slogans and burning an effigy of Trump, gathered in front of the American embassy in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

In Indonesia, hundreds of protesters mostly clad in white were arriving outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, capital of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country. Some wore checkered scarves and waved Palestinian flags, while others shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).

“We have prepared personnel and patrols to secure the U.S. embassy. We are expecting between 500 and 1,000 demonstrators,” said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta advised its citizens to avoid areas where there were demonstrations and said its consulate in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya had suspended public services on Friday.

Indonesia has been a long-running supporter of the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there have been public demonstrations in support of Palestine in recent years.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday urged the United States to reconsider its decision and instructed his foreign minister to summon the U.S. ambassador for an explanation.

In Malaysia, leaders from the ruling party United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) and the popular right wing Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), both of which represent the majority ethnic Malay-Muslims, led the rally and representatives of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas are expected to join.

Protests are also expected in South Asia. Pakistan’s major Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami has announced rallies in all major cities after Friday prayers.

President Trump said on Wednesday that the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem in the coming years.

Protests have already broken out in the West Bank and the Gaza strip as the Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians to launch a fresh uprising against Israel.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Michael Perry

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EDITORIAL: Trumpeting Jerusalem


    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, December 8, 2017 | 07:52 am

EDITORIAL: Trumpeting Jerusalem

Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump at the manger square in Bethlehem on Dec. 5, 2017. US President Donald Trump told Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in a phone call that he intends to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Abbas’s office said. (Agence France-Presse/Musa Al Shaer)

Many world leaders, including President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, have angrily condemned United States President Donald Trump for officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For the American president, his decision is a matter of legal technicality, political practicality and an opportunity to show off his leadership muscle.

Protests and condemnation have spread globally, with critics crying foul over the policy that defies international conventions. But the unpredictable American leader does not care about repercussions resulting from his act, like the rise of anti-American sentiment across the world and more acts of terrorism. Trump might still believe in the US might and know well that the enemies of Israel are preoccupied with infighting and quarrels.

Trump insisted he simply implemented the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which requires the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv no later than May 1999. Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has declared the holy city for three religions its capital, although the United Nations has never recognized it.

For Trump, his recognition of Jerusalem is merely part of the realization of his campaign promises, which also include scrapping the Paris Climate Accord, banning the entry of citizens of certain countries, reducing taxes for the super-rich, expelling undocumented migrants and erecting high walls along the Mexican border.

Although Trump said his decision “marks the beginning of a new approach” to the endless conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we believe his much-anticipated announcement on Wednesday has only kick-started a catastrophe.

Palestine is determined that Jerusalem should become its capital when one day it can achieve its long-standing goal of becoming a fully independent state. Palestinians put little hope in Washington playing the role of an honest peace broker, and Trump’s decision has by all means killed any such expectation.

The status of Jerusalem is among the contentious issues of the decades-long peace talks, which have tabled a two-state solution, apart from the right to return and the issue of illegal Jewish settlements that nevertheless have expanded under the watch of the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Further, tension will mount with Muslims wary of what will happen with the Old City and the Al Aqsa Mosque if Israel moves to formally make all of Jerusalem its capital. The mosque in East Jerusalem, at the center of battlegrounds since the Crusades, has deep symbolic meaning to Muslims, who pray there every day.

But as we will see increased fury against the US, it is actually the local Palestinians who will bear the brunt of Israel’s rule. Nevertheless, the Palestinians should also blame themselves for Trump’s move, because they have been unable to forge unity vis-à-vis foreign intervention.

As a Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has rightly spoken out to reject President Trump’s decision. President Jokowi has placed Palestine’s independence high on his foreign policy agenda. It is time for Jokowi to show the world that Indonesia can do more than simply joining the chorus of condemnation against Trump’s recklessness.

South Korea’s Moon unveils new focus on Southeast Asia

November 9, 2017


South Korea’s presidential Blue House has said the policy will mirror Moon Jae-in’s “New Northern Policy” aimed at expanding cooperation between China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia. (Reuters)
JAKARTA: South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday unveiled a new policy aimed at deepening ties with Southeast Asia, as the North Asian economic powerhouse seeks to curb its reliance on traditional trading partners like China and the United States.
Moon made Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, his first state visit to the region and was accompanied by a delegation of around 200 business leaders.
The “New Southern Policy,” aims to better connect South Korea to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and expand the economic influence of Asia’s fourth-largest economy in the region home to over half a billion people.
“Korean diplomacy in Asia has been more toward Japan, China and Russia. But I see that it should expand to new horizons and Indonesia has good prospects,” Moon said in opening remarks at a business forum.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House has said the policy will mirror Moon’s “New Northern Policy” aimed at expanding cooperation between China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia. Moon announced that in September while at the East Economic Forum in Russia.
Indonesia and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a light rail transit (LRT) system, Indonesia’s industry minister Airlangga Hartarto said.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the project in Jakarta was part of a series of MOUs worth up to $1.9 billion due to be signed.
A recent year-long diplomatic standoff between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a US anti-missile system has exposed the dependence of Korean companies on Chinese customers and likely exacerbated Seoul’s urgency to diversify ties.
During a joint news conference with US President Donald Trump this week, Moon said he was aiming for a more “balanced diplomacy,” which would include Russia, ASEAN countries, and members of the EU.
Moon is due to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a state palace in Bogor, south of Jakarta, later on Thursday for talks and then a state dinner.
The two are due to discuss infrastructure, trade, and also tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Indonesia has traditionally had good relations with North Korea and maintains diplomatic ties and is one of a small number of countries with an embassy in Pyongyang.
A number of South Korean companies already have or are planning big investments in Indonesia. Steel giant POSCO has a multi-billion-dollar joint venture with Indonesia’s Krakatau Steel, Hyundai Motor is setting up a car factory and Samsung Electronics assembles smartphones in the country.
Indonesia is also emerging as an important market for South Korean defense equipment and the countries are cooperating on a venture to jointly build a fighter plane, dubbed KF-X.
Indonesia’s trade with South Korea was worth about $10 billion in the first nine months of 2017, while Korean foreign direct investment rose about a quarter to $1.37 billion over period. South Koreans make up one of the largest expatriate groups in Indonesia and parts of Jakarta have numerous Korean restaurants and bars.
As well as corporate muscle, Korea’s soft power has also grown in Indonesia alongside other countries in Southeast Asia. Korean K-Pop is hugely popular among Indonesians, with long-established fan clubs and bands, like BTS, touring the Southeast Asian country. Indonesian Twitter accounts dedicated to Korean pop idols have around a million followers.

Dozens dead after blaze sweeps through Indonesia fireworks factory

October 26, 2017



Latest update : 2017-10-26

Dozens of people have been killed and dozens more injured in a blaze that tore through a fireworks factory outside the Indonesian capital, police said Thursday, triggering explosions and sending plumes of black smoke into the air.

The fire broke out at an industrial complex in Tangerang, a satellite city of Jakarta.

“There are 103 workers in total at this factory, 43 are injured and being treated in three hospitals, the remains of 23 victims have been found,” Nico Afinta from the Jakarta police told Kompas TV.

Many of the bodies of the victims were found clustered at the back of the factory, police said, indicating there may have been a panicked rush to flee the flames.

A firefighter at the scene said the victims had been burned beyond recognition.

“Those who died are completely unrecognisable, totally burnt,” Oni Sahroni told Metro TV.

Parts of the building collapsed after being gutted by the blaze, which scorched nearby cars. Witnesses reported hearing blasts erupt from the site.

Local resident Beni Benteng told AFP said he heard an explosion and people inside screaming for help.

“My friends and I and some police officers knocked down a wall so people could escape, then the workers came out,” he said.

“I saw people including women were jumping from above, oh my God,” he added.

The blaze, which broke out in the morning, was brought under control by late afternoon and authorities were working to recover the victims’ bodies from the building.


Authorities have not yet said how the fire started, but have confirmed it began near the front door and quickly spread.

“Victims were found piling at the back, it seems like they were avoiding the blaze at the front door,” Afinta told Metro TV.

Desperate friends and family thronged a nearby police hospital in Keramat Kati looking for loved ones.

Video footage shot by an AFP stringer showed victims, covered in bandages, laid out on stretches and others with minor injuries sitting in the hallways or outside.

A factory worker at the hospital in Keramat Kati said the fire erupted in the middle of production.

“I don’t know how it happened, I was working outside of the factory and there were some explosions, four cars exploded and almost all motorbikes also exploded,” Ade, who suffered burns to his arms and legs, told AFP.

The factory — part of a complex that borders a residential area — had only been operating for six weeks, district government official Toni Rustoni told Metro TV.

Indonesia military chief ‘free to travel to US’: embassy

October 23, 2017


© AFP/File | The Indonesian military said General Gatot Nurmantyo was unable to board his Emirates flight from the Indonesian capital after being refused entry by the US Customs and Border Protection agency

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia’s military chief is free to travel to the United States, the US embassy said Monday, after the general was apparently stopped as he tried to board a flight.

Jakarta has demanded an explanation for the incident after General Gatot Nurmantyo — who is believed to harbour presidential ambitions — was refused boarding in Jakarta by the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

Nurmantyo had been invited to Washington by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford, America’s highest-ranking military officer, where he was due to attend a conference.

Erin Elizabeth McKee, acting deputy ambassador to Jakarta, told reporters there were “absolutely no issues” with the general’s ability to visit the US.

“General Gatot is able to travel, there are no restrictions, the United States welcomed his participation in the conference that General Dunford invited him to,” she said.

Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi said the US ambassador had apologised, but had offered no explanation.

“We have told them that we still demand a clarification and explanation on why the incident happened, we told them we are still waiting,” she said.

Nurmantyo will not attend the conference unless this clarification is received, the military said. “If there has been a mistake, there must be an apology, not to the military commander but to the government,” a military spokesman said.

Since being appointed armed forces chief by President Joko Widodo in July 2015, Nurmantyo has been at the centre of several controversies.

Earlier this year he abruptly suspended all military cooperation with Australia in a row over teaching materials, and he has been rebuked by members of President Joko Widodo’s cabinet for making misleading public remarks.

Nurmantyo will step down as leader of the armed forces in 2018 and many analysts believe he has political ambitions.


Indonesia to demand answers after military chief denied U.S. entry

October 22, 2017


JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia intends to send a diplomatic note to the U.S. secretary of state and summon Washington’s deputy ambassador in Jakarta to explain why the head of its military was denied entry to the United States, an Indonesian official said on Sunday.

Indonesia’s Armed Forces Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo was about to board a flight on Saturday when the airline informed him that U.S. authorities had denied him entry, according to Indonesian media reports.

Nurmantyo was going to the United States at the invitation of General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and a former head of the U.S. Marine Corps, according to the reports. He was also due to take part in a forum organized by the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington on Monday.

Arrmanatha Nasir, a spokesman for Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministry said that Nurmantyo had informed the ministry of the entry denial but the spokesman could not confirm details.

“After receiving that information, our foreign affairs minister has asked our ambassador in Washington DC to send a diplomatic note to the U.S. secretary of state to ask for clarification,” he said.The ministry will also summon the U.S. deputy ambassador in Jakarta on Monday to seek explanation, Nasir said, adding that the ambassador is presently not in Indonesia.

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.

Nurmantyo has frequently courted controversy in Indonesia because of his actions and what analysts perceive as his political ambitions. The general promotes the notion that Indonesia is besieged by “proxy wars” involving foreign states and even a renewed communist threat.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said this month that the armed forces should stay out of politics and ensure their loyalty is only to the state and the government.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, generally enjoys good ties with the United States although in the past ties between the two countries’ armed forces have been strained by alleged rights abuses involving Indonesia’s armed forces.

Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Jacqueline Wong

Tokyo, Hong Kong lead Asia gains but dollar retreats

October 4, 2017

© AFP | With Janet Yellen’s term coming to an end in February, investors are turning their attention to who will take her place as head of the Federal Reserve
HONG KONG (AFP) – Tokyo and Hong Kong led gains on most markets in Asia Wednesday following a record close on Wall Street but the dollar eased slightly as attention begins to focus on the likely make-up of the new Federal Reserve board.

Investors are broadly upbeat about the global economic outlook and remain buoyed by the release last week of Donald Trump’s tax-cutting plans, while they are also looking ahead to the release of key jobs data on Friday.

With Fed boss Janet Yellen’s term due to end in February, investors will be closely watching for clues about Trump’s choice to take over — a decision expected to be made in two to three weeks.

The president has said he would decide after interviewing ex-board member Kevin Warsh, current governor Jerome Powell and two other candidates.

Analysts said the dollar would likely move in line with who is considered the favourite to take the helm, with Warsh seen as a fiscal hawk and Powell more in line with Yellen’s wait-and-see policy to monetary tightening.

“Markets rightly or wrongly came to the view late last week that Warsh was the front-runner, and viewed him — rightly or wrongly — as having more hawkish proclivities than Janet Yellen,” Ray Attrill, global co-head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.

But he added that talk of Powell taking the top post have “seen the dollar giving back a little of the gains” from last week.

The next key driver for forex traders will be the release of payrolls figures on Friday, which could provide more of a clue about the Fed’s plans for raising interest rates.

In early Asian trade the greenback was down against the yen and pound, while it also backtracked against most other high-yielding currencies including the Australian dollar, South Korean won and the Mexican peso.

It was up slightly against the euro but the single currency has come under pressure from political concerns as Spain is wracked with turmoil over Catalonia’s independence vote.

On equity markets the Nikkei in Tokyo ended the morning 0.2 percent higher, building on Tuesday’s gains to sit at more than two-year highs.

Hong Kong was up 0.8 percent, while Wellington, Manila and Jakarta all climbed. But Sydney dipped 0.7 percent and Singapore was 0.3 percent off.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 20659.12 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 28,400.62

Shanghai – composite: Closed for a public holiday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.63 from 112.84 yen at 2100 GMT

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1768 from $1.1749

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3260 from $1.3240

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 36 cents at $50.06 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 33 cents at $55.67 per barrel

New York – DOW: UP 0.4 percent at 22,641,67 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,468.11 (close)