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Dollar retreats; Asian stocks slip on low volume: markets wrap

The offshore yuan edged higher.
Image: Chris Ratcliffe

The dollar began Monday on the back foot after weakening last week, while US stock futures fluctuated and Asian equities slipped amid subdued trading volumes impacted by a holiday in Japan. The offshore yuan edged higher.

Hong Kong shares underperformed as HSBC Holdings Plc’s shares fell to the lowest since 1995, dragging the Hang Seng Index about 1% lower. Equities in China and Australia also slipped, while trade data showing a continuing recovery for South Korea’s economy lent some support in Seoul.

Japan’s stock market was shut. The dollar edged lower against its main G-10 peers. Taiwan’s dollar strengthened to a level not seen in seven years. Treasury futures were little changed, with cash bonds not trading until the London open due to the Japan holiday. Crude oil was steady.

As US-China tensions linger, President Donald Trump said he’s approved Oracle Corp.’s bid for the US operations of TikTok “in concept.” The Trump administration’s curbs on WeChat were put on hold by a judge, upending an effort to halt use of the Chinese-owned app in the US.

Investors remain watchful for any signs of progress on a US fiscal stimulus package, while Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will testify before Congress from Tuesday to Thursday to discuss pandemic relief efforts. Covid-19 cases in the US steadied as deaths approached 200,000 and over in the UK, the Health Secretary said the country is at a “tipping point.”

“We do have concerns down the stretch about the markets reacting poorly to some of the uncertainties facing us — the election, potentially around Covid-19, and the fact that we don’t have a stimulus package yet,” Rebecca Felton, senior market strategist at Riverfront Investment Group, said on Bloomberg TV. “I would have to think we could be volatile to the downside here.”

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank has launched a review of its pandemic bond-buying program to consider how long it should continue and whether its exceptional flexibility should be extended to older programs, the Financial Times reported.

Despite global equity valuations remaining close to an almost two-decade high, fund flow data show money is continuing to move into US stocks. With the Fed anchoring interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future, profits are expected to recover somewhat from the pandemic-induced malaise.

“We’ve been reasonably optimistic toward the equity market for quite some time,” Jun Bei Liu, fund manager at Tribeca Investment Partners, said on Bloomberg TV. “The fundamental economic recovery seems to be on track. Over the next 6-12 months we do see substantial earnings improvement.”

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures dipped 0.2% as of 11:17 a.m. in Hong Kong. The gauge on Friday fell 1.1%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 0.8%.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.9%.
  • Shanghai Composite lost 0.4%.
  • South Korea’s Kospi index was little changed.
  • Euro Stoxx 50 futures lost 0.4%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2%.
  • The yen rose 0.2% to 104.32 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan traded at 6.7605 per dollar, up 0.3%.
  • The euro bought $1.1858, up 0.2%.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries ended Friday little changed at 0.69%.
  • Australia’s 10-year yield fell three basis points to 0.86%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was at $41.14 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1,952.96 an ounce, up 0.1%.
© 2020 Bloomberg

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