Asia Stocks Set for Mixed Open Before China Data

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(Oct 18): Asian stocks looked set for a cautious start Friday ahead of a slew of economic data coming from China. U.S. equities posted modest gains amid mostly positive earnings reports.

Shares in Sydney dipped, while equity futures edged up in Tokyo and were flat in Hong Kong. The S&P 500 Index fluctuated for most of Thursday around the 3,000 level, as Morgan Stanley became the latest big bank to defy expectations for weak growth. Doubts over whether a Brexit deal can win approval whipsawed the pound. Treasuries edged lower and the dollar declined.

The focus Friday moves to the latest reading on the health of China’s economy with the release of third-quarter GDP, September industrial production and retail sales data. Meantime, Brexit continues to test investor nerves -- the U.K. and European Union have said they had agreed on a new withdrawal plan, but a key Northern Irish party said it won’t vote for the deal. The U.S. said that Turkey agreed to temporarily halt hostilities in northern Syria.

“There’s no doubt there’s been some de-escalation of risk, global geopolitical economic risks relative to where we were two weeks ago,” said Michael Kushma, global fixed income chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. “But it may be just a false dawn. We don’t know yet. Our crystal ball is very cloudy at the moment.”

Elsewhere, oil turned positive hours after a U.S. government report showed large declines in fuel inventories, outweighing a bigger-than-expected crude build.

Here are the main moves in markets:
Stocks

    Futures on the S&P 500 slid 0.1% as of 8:10 a.m. in Tokyo. The underlying gauge rose 0.3% on Thursday.
    Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.3%.
    Hang Seng futures earlier ended flat.
    Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dipped 0.3%.

Currencies

    The yen was at 108.56 per dollar, up 0.1%.
    The offshore yuan remained at 7.0798 per dollar.
    The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed.
    The pound was at $1.2872, down 0.2%.

Bonds

    The yield on 10-year Treasuries added one basis point to 1.75%.
    Australia’s 10-year yield added one basis point to 1.11%.

Commodities

    West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.1% to $54.
    Gold was steady at $1,493.41. - Bloomberg