Asia Stocks Are Mixed as Euro Gains, Bonds Steady: Markets Wrap

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By Adam Haigh

Asian stocks are set to end the week on diverging paths as Japanese shares declined, while those in Hong Kong extended a record winning streak. Volatility in the Treasuries market subsided and the euro extended its advance.

Equities rose in most Asia-Pacific markets with above-average volumes in Hong Kong and South Korea, while a stronger yen weighed on Japanese stocks. The euro was boosted by signals from the European Central Bank the economy may be strong enough to warrant scaling back crisis-era guidance on stimulus. The ECB release was the latest in a series of communications from central banks that have started waking currency markets up from a low-volatility stupor. Treasuries steadied after a sell-off sparked by rising concerns on inflation and potential rollback of purchases by China.

Attention turns to the earnings season, with investors hoping results from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. can boost optimism in the expansion of American corporate profits. The broad-based gains in equities this year are building on 2017’s stellar run amid optimism in global growth, though leading some to question valuations.
An exchange-traded fund tracking Brazilian equities dropped in after-hours U.S. trading after S&P Global Ratings cut Brazil’s sovereign credit rating deeper into junk territory.

Here are some key events and data releases scheduled for the remainder of this week:

  • U.S. inflation data are forecast to show price pressures remain muted for now, giving hawks little reason to argue for faster tightening.
  • JPMorgan and BlackRock Inc. are among four financial firms reporting results Friday.
  • China’s export growth probably slowed somewhat, to 10.8 percent in December from November’s 12.3 percent, forecasts ahead of data on Friday show. Imports are expected to climb 15.1 percent, with the trade surplus narrowing to $37 billion.

Terminal users can read more in our markets blog.

And these are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Japan’s Topix index fell 0.5 percent as of 1:38 p.m. in Tokyo. 7-Eleven store owner Seven & I Holdings declined with FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co. after reporting results. Fast Retailing surged 6.3 percent after profit topped estimates, curbing losses in the Nikkei 225 index to less than 0.1 percent.
  • Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed after the underlying gauge rose 0.7 percent Thursday.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1 percent. Gauges in India, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan also climbed, while South Korea’s Kospi was flat. 
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1 percent, up almost 4 percent since the year began.
  • The MSCI All-Country World Index added 0.4 percent Thursday, closing at an all-time high. It’s up 3.3 percent this year after a 22 percent surge in 2017.

Currencies

  • The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.2048 after climbing 0.7 percent Thursday.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent.
  • The pound added 0.1 percent to $1.3550.
  • The Korean won climbed 0.8 percent to 1,063.94 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries was steady at 2.55 percent, up about seven basis points for the week.
  • Australia’s 10-year yield rose about one basis point, to 2.75 percent.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude slid 0.3 percent to $63.62 a barrel, while Brent was flat at $69.28 after briefly topping $70.
  • Gold futures advanced 0.6 percent to $1,329.86 an ounce, on course for a fifth weekly gain.

 

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