Asian stocks look set to follow US peers lower

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(Oct 20): Asian stocks looked poised to follow their US counterparts lower as chances of a fresh stimulus deal before November’s election faded and global virus cases surpassed 40 million. Treasuries slipped.

Futures pointed to modest losses in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. The S&P 500 Index fell to the lowest in almost two weeks as opposition to a sizeable aid package hardened in the Republican-controlled Senate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus negotiators are still trying to reach a deal. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to almost 0.77% and the dollar weakened versus major peers.

Elsewhere, the pound jumped by the most since August at one point as British officials signalled they were ready to water down controversial lawbreaking Brexit legislation, a move which could reopen talks with the European Union (EU). Oil dropped after an OPEC+ meeting made no mention of any changes to a plan to further ease oil-output cuts from January.

Investors are weighing the chances of a resolution to stimulus talks before the Nov 3 election. US Federal Reserve (Fed) policymakers have called for more fiscal support to shore up the recovery from the pandemic-induced recession.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “continued to narrow their differences” on a coronavirus relief package, a Pelosi aide said Monday, as time draws short to reach an agreement on a bill that could pass by Election Day. Democrats have resisted giving up on their priorities for local governments, workers, schools and healthcare.

“Risky assets are losing their mojo after disheartening virus updates, countless stimulus banter that will not yield anything until after the election, and as central banks remain stuck in wait-and-see mode,” Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda in New York, said in a note. “The QE for life trade appears like it is not going away anytime soon, but that is not enough of reason to buy stocks now.”

Meanwhile, global coronavirus cases exceeded 40 million, with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing. In the US, surges in Wisconsin and other battleground states pose a challenge for President Donald Trump two weeks before he stands for re-election.

Here are some key events this week:

  • Brexit trade talks are likely to continue at least into next week if the UK and EU fail to reach an agreement.
  • Australia central bank minutes are out Tuesday.
  • The final presidential debate before the US election, between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, will be live from Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index slipped 1.6%.
  • Nikkei 225 futures fell 0.5%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index futures fell 0.7%.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index futures lost 0.6% earlier.

Currencies

  • The yen was flat at 105.39 per dollar.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.1%.
  • The euro climbed 0.4% to US$1.1770.
  • The British pound increased 0.3% to US$1.2946.
  • The onshore yuan strengthened 0.3% to 6.6773 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed two basis points to 0.77%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.4% to US$40.71 a barrel.
  • Brent crude dropped 1% to US$42.50 a barrel.
  • Gold was flat at US$1,904.18 an ounce.