Asia stock futures tip modest gains; bonds slip

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SYDNEY (Feb 12): Asian stocks looked set for modest gains Wednesday as investors weighed the spreading coronavirus against expectations for policy support. U.S. equities closed off their highs on reports of fresh antitrust scrutiny for tech firms.

Shares in Australia opened up as investors cheered earnings from the country’s biggest bank. Futures pointed higher in Hong Kong and Japan, which reopens after a holiday. Earlier, the S&P 500 Index pared gains amid reports the Federal Trade Commission is looking into acquisitions by some large technology firms, though still posted a fresh all-time high. Ten-year Treasury yields rose, while the dollar dropped for the first time in five sessions.

Investor sentiment has improved recently amid confidence that central banks could ease policy should growth slow down on the coronavirus outbreak. In remarks to Congress Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, while positive about the American economic outlook, said the central bank is keeping a close eye on fallout from the epidemic, which continues to disrupt travel and trade.

“The one thing which does seem to be with great certainty is that the Fed at some point will be there with liquidity on tap and probably rate cuts,” Peter Chatwell, head ofmulti-asset strategy at Mizuho International, told Bloomberg TV. “That is driving markets.”

Elsewhere, oil bounced back from Monday’s swoon and gold dipped. Bitcoin remained above $10,000. 

Here are some key events coming up:

* The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has a policy decision on Wednesday.

* Earnings season continues with reports including MGM Resorts International and Softbank on Wednesday; Thursday will bring Alibaba, Nissan, Credit Suisse, Airbus, Nestle and AIG.

* Thursday sees a gauge of underlying U.S. inflation, the core consumer price index. It is forecast to increase to 0.2% in January, a faster pace than in December.

* China and the U.S. on Friday lower tariffs on billions of dollars of respective imports as part of the trade deal signed last month.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

* Futures on the S&P 500 were flat as of 9:05 a.m. in Tokyo. The underlying gauge rose 0.2% on Tuesday.

* Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4%.

* Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 255 climbed 0.8% in Chicago.

* Hang Seng futures earlier added 0.4%.

Currencies

* The yen was steady at 109.80 per dollar.

* The offshore yuan held at 6.9704 per dollar.

* The euro bought $1.0919, little changed.

* The Bloomberg Dolalr Spot Index slid 0.2%.

Bonds

* The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose two basis points to 1.60%.

* Australia’s 10-year yield added two basis points to 1.04%.

Commodities

* West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.3% to $50.12 a barrel.

* Gold held at $1,567.53 an ounce.