Asian stocks were steady Thursday and US equity futures gained after the S&P 500 notched up another record on further evidence of the Federal Reserve’s commitment to supportive policy.
Japanese shares slipped amid concerns Tokyo is planning stricter steps to curb rising virus infections, while Australia and Hong Kong outperformed. US and European equity futures climbed following modest gains in the S&P 500 Index amid dwindling volume on US exchanges. Tech giants including Apple Inc. helped push up the Nasdaq 100. The dollar headed for its fifth decline in six sessions, while Treasuries stabilised.
The British pound snapped two days of losses after coming under pressure because of concerns relating to AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine, on which the UK is heavily dependent. Growing worries that the shot causes rare blood clots could hinder immunisation campaigns elsewhere in the world too.
Fed officials were united on the need to see more progress on the recovery before scaling back their massive bond-buying program, according to minutes from last month’s meeting released Wednesday. Policy makers have downplayed inflation risks, maintaining that the recent surge in Treasury yields reflects stronger growth prospects. Traders have scaled back their most-aggressive positioning for interest rates to start rising by the end of next year.
Turbulence should return to the market in the second quarter, said Banny Lam, CEB International Investment Corp. head of research, on Bloomberg TV. Alongside the focus on inflation pressures, “we should put more focus on the theme of renewed economic growth.”
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen unveiled details of a plan to bring back about $2 trillion in corporate profits into the US tax net. That would help fund the government’s spending initiatives, potentially reducing reliance on more borrowing that could drive rates higher.
Some key events to watch this week:
- The 2021 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group take place virtually. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell takes part in a panel about the global economy on Thursday.
- Japan releases its balance of payments numbers Thursday.
- China’s consumer and producer prices data are due Friday.
These are some of the main moves in markets:
- S&P 500 futures were up 0.5% as of 7 a.m. in London. The S&P 500 gained 0.2%.
- Japan’s Topix Index was down 0.8%.
- South Korea’s Kospi Index fell 0.1%.
- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1%.
- Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 1.1%.
- China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3%.
- Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 0.4%.
- The yen rose 0.2% to 109.68 per dollar.
- The offshore yuan was at 6.5539 per dollar.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dipped 0.1%.
- The euro was little changed at $1.1871.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries dipped 1.66%.
- Australia’s 10-year bond yield slid one basis point to 1.74%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.8% to $59.31 a barrel.
- Gold rose 0.3% to $1,742.05 an ounce.