Asia Stocks Poised for Muted Start: Dollar Slips: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks were on course for a mixed start to Thursday trading as investors weighed the likelihood for a new U.S. spending bill and potential coronavirus vaccines against concern about an escalation of tensions with China. The dollar weakened to the lowest level since March.

Equity futures were little changed in Australia and Hong Kong, with Japan closed Thursday and Friday for holidays. Contracts on the S&P 500 opened flat after the gauge earlier rose to a five-month high, with utilities, real estate and industrial shares leading the gains. Trump administration officials are said to be discussing a short-term extension of unemployment insurance before the benefits lapse. Shares of Microsoft Corp. dropped and Tesla Inc. surged after the companies released earnings following the close of regular trading.

Traders will also be watching the open of Chinese markets after news that the U.S. ordered China’s Houston consulate to quickly close hit the Hang Seng Index and the yuan on Wednesday.

Progress on combating the virus’s impact also contributed to sentiment. Pfizer Inc. shares rallied after saying the government ordered up to 600 million doses of its vaccine candidate against Covid-19. Treasuries were little changed, while silver continued its tear, climbing to the highest level in almost seven years.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • Quarterly earnings gather steam, with reports due from Blackstone Group, Roche, Intel, Unilever, Canadian Pacific, Daimler, Hyundai and Mattel.
  • U.S. weekly jobless claims come on Thursday.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed as of 8:20 a.m. in Sydney. The index rose 0.6% on Wednesday.
  • Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng were little changed.
  • Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2%.
  • The yen was at 107.17 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan traded at 7.0162 per dollar.
  • The euro bought $1.1569.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 0.60%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude added 0.1% to $41.94 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1,874.20 an ounce, up 0.1%.

— With assistance by Sarah Ponczek, and Amena Saad

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