Asian Stocks Set to Advance; Dollar Declines: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks were set for modest gains at the start of the year’s final quarter though volumes may be subdued Thursday with many markets closed for holidays. U.S. shares earlier finished higher after a volatile session.

Futures in Japan and Australia climbed. S&P 500 contracts were flat. The U.S. index climbed 0.8%, paring gains of as much as 1.7% after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there had been no agreement on pandemic relief, though talks would continue. Speculation a deal was in the works kept the benchmark at a two-week high. The dollar declined and Treasury yields ticked higher.

Markets in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea are shut for holidays.

Mnuchin said he and Nancy Pelosi “made a lot of progress in a lot of areas,” and the House speaker said talks with the Treasury secretary will continue. Mitch McConnell was pessimistic, saying the two sides remain “far apart” on the amount of spending. The Democrats will nevertheless vote on their $2.2 billion proposal later in the day, although it has no chance in the Senate.

On the virus front, New Jersey reported a rise in cases and the NFL postponed a game for the first time after nine members of the Tennessee Titans were infected. In the Netherlands, the government urged citizens to wear masks amid further restrictions and the Czech Republic issued a 30-day state of emergency to stem a surge in cases.

“As coronavirus continues to linger and certain areas of the economy are still shut down, you need some sort of stimulus package,” said Andrea Roemhildt, investment manager at Aware Asset Management. “The market is just waiting for a signal that this might actually get done.”

Here are some key events coming up:

  • The September U.S. employment report on Friday will be the last before the November election.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures were little changed as of 7:05 a.m. in Tokyo. The index rose 0.8% on Wednesday.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.4%.
  • Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.2%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.3%.
  • The yen was at 105.46 per dollar.
  • The euro bought $1.1724.
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.7830.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose three basis points to 0.68%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude slid 0.5% to $40.01 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1,887.32 an ounce, up 0.1%.

— With assistance by Claire Ballentine, and Vivien Lou Chen

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