Asian stocks were mixed Wednesday after U.S. equities pulled back from record highs on fading prospects for bigger government aid checks to individuals. The dollar extended a decline.
Shares retreated in Japan and Australia, and advanced in Hong Kong and South Korea. S&P 500 futures fluctuated after the benchmark closed with a modest decline, while an index of U.S. small cap shares tumbled almost 2%. U.S. stocks pulled back from the day’s highs as Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to increase direct payments to individuals to $2,000 from $600. Benchmark Treasuries were little changed and oil edged higher.
With a volatile year coming to a close, risk assets such as stocks, corporate bonds and Bitcoin are sitting just off record highs. As investors try to assess the impact of the pandemic and the pace of vaccine distribution, the MSCI AC World Index of global stocks is set to end the year about 14% higher, having surged almost 68% since its March low.
“This is an economy that is recovering, policy is going to be accommodative for years to come, it suggest a good backdrop for risk assets – it doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be some challenges as we progress over the next couple of years,” Brian Levitt, Invesco global market strategist, said on Bloomberg TV. “The reality is the markets are going to be focused on a recovery.”
On the coronavirus front, the Covid-19 variant discovered in the UK. has arrived in Colorado, reportedly the first time it’s been identified in the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden criticized vaccine-distribution efforts under President Trump as too slow, while the U.S. top infectious-disease doctor Anthony Fauci told Fintech Zoom that officials had hoped to have more people vaccinated by now. UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has approved placing further swaths of the country into stricter Tier 4 restrictions, according to the Times.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 rose and the FTSE 100 Index rallied in the first session since the UK.’s Christmas Eve trade deal with the European Union. The pound recouped some of Monday’s decline. The euro strengthened.
Here are some key events coming up:
- U.S. pending home sales and goods trade balance data are due Wednesday.
- U.S. initial jobless claims figures are published Thursday.
- Most global stock markets are closed Friday for New Year’s Day.
These are the main moves in markets:
- S&P 500 futures were little changed as of 10:27 a.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 Index fell 0.2%.
- Topix index fell 0.7%.
- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.8%.
- South Korea’s Kospi index rose less than 0.1%.
- Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.5%.
- Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.1%.
- Euro Stoxx 50 futures fell 0.6%.
- The yen was at 103.44 per dollar, up0.1%.
- The offshore yuan traded at 6.5205 per dollar.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index sank 0.2%.
- The euro rose 0.2% to $1.2279.
- The British pound rose 0.2% to $1.3523.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries was at 0.93%.
- Australia’s 10-year bond yield was at 0.97%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.5% to $48.23 a barrel.
- Gold rose 0.2% to $1,881.25 an ounce.
— With assistance by Vildana Hajric