Asian stocks moved lower while the yen strengthened amid signs that Federal Reserve officials have split opinions on policy strategy.
Equities from Japan to Singapore registered declines, with Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong showing the biggest losses. The S&P 500 Index posted small gains Wednesday and technology shares boosted the Nasdaq 100. The yen climbed against all its major peers. Oil recovered some losses after slumping toward $45 a barrel, as data showed U.S. crude and gasoline stockpiles declined.
Minutes from the Fed’s most recent meeting showed a lack of consensus about when to shrink the central bank’s balance sheet and how to approach policy strategy in a time of low inflation. The officials continued to view gradual interest-rate increases as appropriate, while starting the process of unwinding their $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year.
“With the mixed tone from the minutes and the essential delay to the announcement of balance-sheet reduction timing, there is no surprise why we are seeing the muted reaction,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte. “Nevertheless, as things stand, the Fed’s rhetoric still points toward confidence in economic conditions.”
Geopolitical risk remains on investors’ minds as Kim Jong Un’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland sparked an emergency meeting at the United Nations Security Council. Despite brief flurries of risk aversion, money managers aren’t showing signs of undue worry in reaction to North Korea’s provocations.
Here’s what’s coming up:
- The European Central Bank on Thursday releases minutes from its last meeting, with investors on the lookout for clues on whether the bank is closer to tightening policy.
- The G-20 summit takes place in Hamburg. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to hold his first meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin as well as meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
- American employers probably added around 175,000 workers in June and wage growth probably strengthened, consistent with a solid labor market, economists project the U.S. Labor Department to report on Friday.
These are the main moves in markets:
- Japan’s Topix dropped 0.3 percent as of 1:22 p.m. in Tokyo. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.2 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index dropped 0.3 percent.
- Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.3 percent, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index retreated 0.7 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.3 percent.
- Futures on the S&P 500 Index declined less than 0.1 percent after the underlying gauge rose 0.2 percent Wednesday. The Nasdaq 100 index jumped 0.9 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.2 percent.
- The yen climbed 0.3 percent to 112.98 per dollar. The New Zealand dollar slipped 0.2 percent while the Australian dollar fell less than 0.1 percent.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed, after Wednesday’s 0.1 percent gain.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 2.32 percent, after falling three basis points Wednesday.
- Australia’s benchmark yield was flat at 2.63 percent.
- West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.8 percent to $45.47 a barrel, paring an earlier gain of as much as 1.4 percent. The contract dropped 4.1 percent Wednesday, the most in four weeks, as Russia was said to oppose any proposal to deepen OPEC-led production cuts.
- Gold was flat at $1,227.05 an ounce, after two days of gains.