Asian markets to inch up as U.S. stimulus talks restart

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian shares were set to track Wall Street gains on Friday as revived hopes for a U.S. stimulus deal helped investors overlook weaker-than-expected jobs data and growing global coronavirus cases.

FILE PHOTO: Passersby wearing protective face masks walk past a screen displaying Nikkei share average and world stock indexes outside a brokerage, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan October 5, 2020. Picture taken with slow shutter speed. REUTERS/Issei Kato

In energy markets, oil prices rallied on production shutdowns ahead of a storm in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and the possibility of supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and Norway.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said talks with Congress had restarted on targeted fiscal relief, after calling off negotiations earlier this week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed the likelihood of stand-alone bills without more comprehensive aid, but the fact that talks had resumed was enough to lift markets.

Futures for the S&P 500 EScv1 rose 0.44%, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 futures YAPcm1 were 0.20% higher and Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures NKc1 added 0.32% in early Asia.

Mixed messages about stimulus will likely continue to trigger choppy markets, analysts said.

“Optimism over additional fiscal support in the U.S. resurfaced, but the back and forth between policymakers could see volatility linger for a while yet,” said senior ANZ Research economist Miles Workman in a note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.43%, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.80% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.5%.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.76%.

Gold also rose on stimulus hopes with the yellow metal XAU= up 0.1% at $1,889.50 on Thursday and U.S. gold futures GCcv1 0.2% higher at $1,895.10.

Meanwhile, the number of jobless claims in the U.S. came in 20,000 higher than economists expected at 840,000 showing unemployment in the world’s largest economy remains historically high and recovery in the labor market losing momentum.

Additionally, the World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Thursday, led by a surge of infections in Europe. Cases are also rising in about 30 out of 50 U.S. states including New York, once the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, which recently re-implemented school and business closures to stave off a second wave.

The downbeat economic data and health outlook fueled risk-off appetite for U.S. treasuries.

U.S. 10-year yields US10YT=RR dropped to 0.766%, from 0.785% late on Wednesday, while yields on U.S. 30-year bonds US30YT=RR fell to 1.569% from 1.589%.

Oil prices pushed higher amid hurricane-related shutdowns and possible OPEC production cuts.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled up $1.35, or 3.2% to $43.34, after falling 1.6% on Wednesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 added $1.24 cents, or 3.1%, to $41.19 after falling 1.8% on Wednesday.

The dollar index =USD was little changed against a basket of major currencies after Thursday’s session settling at 93.60.

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