Stocks in Asia were mixed as investors digested a raft of earnings reports, while the yen turned higher after the Federal Reserve gave investors little fodder to change their views on the pace of U.S. interest-rate hikes.
Equities in Hong Kong and Japan retreated while South Korean shares edged higher. The dollar resumed declines, falling against almost all its major peers, after climbing for the first time in three days on Wednesday. Oil halted its gains above $53 a barrel while gold advanced. China markets remain closed for the final day of Lunar New Year holidays that started last Friday.
The Fed reiterated its intention to lift rates gradually as the labor market tightens, acknowledging rising confidence among U.S. consumers and businesses. Investors will now be looking toward Friday’s jobs report after the uncertainty created during Donald Trump’s first two weeks in office brought equity indexes down from record highs.
“The Trump administration’s protectionist rhetoric and divisive political approach have raised concerns the anticipated fiscal stimulus measures could be derailed,” said Elias Haddad, Sydney-based senior currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “The dollar will continue to trade on the defensive in the near term.”
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Earnings are coming thick and fast with results from Siemens AG to Volvo AG and Facebook Inc. boosting optimism for corporate forecasts. Later Thursday in Japan, heavyweights including Mazda Motor Corp. and Sony Corp. are due to release profit reports. Royal Dutch Shell Plc results are scheduled during European hours, while investors in the U.S. will be scrutinizing Amazon.com Inc.’s earnings.
What’s coming up in the markets:
- Bank of England Governor Mark Carney faces a delicate balancing act when policy makers meet to decide interest rates on Thursday.
Economists expect a 175,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls for January, in line with the recent trend, when the U.S. Labor Department releases jobs data on Friday. With both hiring and unemployment likely to remain relatively stable, the focus on the jobs report will center on wage pressures.
- The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.2 percent. Japan’s Topix index fell 0.2 percent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed.
- Futures on the S&P 500 lost 0.2 percent, after the underlying gauge rose less than one point to close at 2,279.42 on Wednesday. That halted a four-day slide that was the longest since the November election.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index lost 0.2 percent, poised for the lowest closing level since November. The gauge had gained as much as 0.4 percent after data Wednesday from the ADP Research Institute showed private payrolls climbed by 246,000, compared with the 168,000 median projection of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
- The yen climbed 0.2 percent to 113.07 per dollar, after dropping Wednesday for the first time in three days.
- The Aussie rose 0.8 percent to 76.45 U.S. cents as the government’s trade surplus for December beat forecasts. The currency has rallied 1.5 percent over the past five sessions.
- West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped 0.5 percent to $53.62 a barrel, after jumping 2 percent on Wednesday. The biggest expansion of U.S. stockpiles in three months countered output cuts by Russia, the largest non-OPEC member that’s joined the group in cutting production.
- Gold added 0.4 percent to $1,214.44 an ounce, resuming gains after halting a three-day rally on Wednesday.
- The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose one basis point to 2.48 percent, after adding two basis points on Wednesday.
- Australian bond yields climbed five basis points to 2.79 percent.