GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks stall and dollar squeezed as investors wait for stimulus


By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE, Aug 6 (Reuters) - U.S.-China tension and sobering economic data knocked momentum out of Asia's stock markets on Thursday, though the hope of stimulus staved off falls and kept pressure on the dollar as investors wait for Congress to agree on a new spending package.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS hit an early-session six-and-a-half-month peak but fell back to be flat after drops in China and Hong Kong.

European markets also appeared set for a soft open with Euro STOXX 50 futures STXEc1 down 0.4% and FTSE futures FFIc1 down 0.6%, while S&P 500 futures ESc1 were steady.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 declined 0.5%. .T

The Australian benchmark .AXJO and the Aussie dollar AUD= pulled back after the government hiked its unemployment forecast and said new lockdowns would cut about 2.5 percentage points from third-quarter growth.

That came after weak U.S. jobs figures overnight - which have investors keenly focused on U.S. labour data releases later in the day and on Friday - and an unexpectedly dire 16.5% slump in Philippine growth.

Stepped up efforts from the Trump administration to purge "untrusted" Chinese apps from U.S. networks also weighed on WeChat owner Tencent 0700.HK, Alibaba 9988.HK, and overall sentiment.

However none of the bad news was enough to actually jam markets into reverse or shake investors' faith that governments and central banks will ease up on stimulus any time soon.

"With every bit of bad news there's also promise of good news," said Jasslyn Yeo, global markets strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in Singapore.

"Investors know that we are in a cyclical uptrend," she said. That uptrend is driving inflation expectations higher and lending support to gold and growth stocks while undermining the dollar as U.S. real yields go lower.

Ten-year U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Security (TIPS) yields US10YTIP=RR touched a record-low -1.071% on Thursday as the dollar wallowed a few whiskers above a two-year trough =USD. FRX/ Nominal U.S. yields rose a touch as traders braced for a wave of issuance. US/

Gold XAU= sat comfortably above $2,000 an ounce and crept back toward a record peak hit on Wednesday. GOL/


Positive earnings surprises from Toyota 7203.T and Singapore's DBS Bank DBSM.SI in Asia, and Disney DIS.N overnight, offered hope that the COVID-19 hit to corporate earnings last quarter might not be as bad as first feared.

The next insight into the near-term recovery outlook comes from U.S. jobless claims due at 1230 GMT and payroll figures on Friday as well as whatever fiscal rescue package emerges from political wrangling in Washington.

Top congressional Democrats and White House officials appeared to harden their stances on the relief plan on Wednesday, with few hints of compromise or that an unemployment benefit as generous as $600 a week could be reinstated.

But investors interpreted Senate Republican Roy Blunt's remark that "if there's not a deal by Friday, there won't be a deal," as a sign there would be an agreement.

Sterling traded cautiously ahead of a Bank of England (BOE) policy decision due at 0600 GMT. No changes are expected but some traders are looking for a dovish tilt in language.

"After its sharp 5.5% appreciation in July, the pound will be vulnerable to any sign of the BOE inching towards zero or negative rates," said strategists at DBS.

The pound GBP= was last up 0.1% at $1.3132, while India's rupee INR= also traded firmly ahead of a central bank meeting which has analysts divided over whether to expect more easing or a pause in rate cuts.

Other major currencies were firm with the euro EUR=EBS at $1.1878 and the yen JPY= at 105.51 per dollar.

Brent crude LCOc1 inched back toward a five-month high touched overnight, rising 0.2% to $45.28 per barrel and U.S. crude CLc1 was steady at $42.17 per barrel. O/R

Tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html

(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore. Additional reporting by Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Edwina Gibbs)

((tom.westbrook@tr.com; +65 6318 4876;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.