Asian Stocks Near a Record High as Trading Thins: Markets Wrap
A measure of Asian stocks flirted with a record high on Thursday in muted trading after a listless U.S. session overnight offered little direction ahead of New-Year holidays.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of stocks was trading less than half a percentage point from the record it reached in November, before a wave of profit taking saw the gauge retreat. Japanese shares started Thursday little changed, following suit from Sydney’s exchange, while futures pointed to a flat open in Hong Kong.
U.S. Treasury yields dipped on Wednesday, taking the dollar down with them, highlighting one of the surprising developments in a year when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates three times and started shrinking its balance sheet. A soft dollar, combined with a synchronous global economic expansion, has proved a boon to emerging markets, including in Asia.
Raw materials prices extended recent gains, with the Bloomberg Commodity Index closing at a six-week high on Wednesday. Oil traded just under $60 a barrel. Traders in bitcoin continued to probe a bottom after the selloff that began early last week, with the digital currency holding above $15,000 during the Asian morning.
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Among the key events remaining for investors this week:
- U.S. trade figures are due Thursday.
- Egypt decides on interest rates.
And here are the main moves in markets:
- Japan’s Topix index was little changed as of 9:18 a.m. in Tokyo, as was the Nikkei 225 Stock Average
- Contracts on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index were also little changed
- Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed after the underlying gauge rose 0.1 percent Wednesday
- The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.1 percent Wednesday
- Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index little changed Thursday after dropping 0.3 percent Wednesday
- Euro rose 0.1% to $1.1899 after gaining 0.3 percent Wednesday
- Pound was steady at $1.3403
- Yen strengthened 0.1% to 113.26 per dollar
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell 7bps Wednesday, to 2.41 percent. It was at 2.42 percent early in the Asian day Thursday
- Germany’s 10-year yield dropped 4bps Wednesday to 0.39 percent
- Australian 10-year yields were at 2.66 percent, down 3bps
- West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at $59.61 a barrel
- Gold futures were little changed at $1,287.55 an ounce
- LME copper futures advanced 1.6 percent to $7,240.00 per metric ton Wednesday, reaching the highest in about four years