Asian stocks looked set for a mixed start to Friday trading as investors weighed prospects for a stimulus deal in Washington against disappointing U.S. jobs data. Treasuries gained and U.S. shares ended a volatile session modestly lower.
Futures were little changed in Japan, while those in Hong Kong edged higher and Australian equities saw a muted open. S&P 500 contracts were flat after the index dipped for a second day without any signs of a breakthrough on the top issues that have held up a deal by lawmakers. Earlier Thursday, the gauge had rebounded after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited progress toward a agreement. U.S. employment data suggested that widening business shutdowns to curb the pandemic are spurring fresh job losses.
After the close of U.S. markets Thursday came news that the first Covid-19 vaccine expected to be deployed in the U.S. won backing of a panel of government advisers.
Earlier, Treasury yields retreated after a strong 30-year bond auction dispelled concerns that this week’s debt sales could prove too large to be palatable for investors. The pound slid as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Britain should prepare to leave the European Union without a trade deal. Airbnb Inc. more than doubled in its trading debut.
The fate of an additional relief package remains unresolved as Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now on board with Mnuchin’s $916 billion proposal, and cited the need to do “everything we can”to help the economy. Meanwhile, Pelosi sees the other $908 billion plan still being drafted by a bipartisan group of lawmakers as the best path to a deal.
“We’re just kind of waiting on a deal,” said Keith Gangl, a portfolio manager at Gradient Investments. “I wouldn’t expect the market to do a whole lot one way or the other going into year-end from here,” he said, “especially if the stimulus package keeps getting pushed out.”
Elsewhere, the euro rose after policy makers escalated their efforts to shield the region from a possible double-dip recession with another burst of monetary stimulus, while cautioning that it may not use up all the new firepower. Oil in London climbed above $50 a barrel for the first time since the pandemic.
These are some of the main moves in markets:
- S&P 500 futures were flat as of 8:01 a.m. in Tokyo. The index decreased 0.1%.
- Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 were little changed.
- Hang Seng futures earlier added 0.4%.
- Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.5%.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2%.
- The euro was at $1.2142.
- The pound bought $1.3301.
- The yen was little changed at 104.23 per dollar.
- The offshore yuan was at 6.5379 per dollar.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries decreased three basis points to 0.91%.
- Australia’s 10-year yield was steady at about 0.98%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.5% to $47 a barrel.
- Gold held at $1,836.58 an ounce.
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