Asia Stocks to Slip After U.S. Drop, Iran Tension

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(July 22): Stocks in Asia looked set to kick off the week on the backfoot following declines in the U.S. Friday. Oil remained in focus amid mounting tension in the Persian Gulf.

Futures dropped in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia late Friday after U.S. markets closed lower. Traders rushed away from bets the Federal Reserve will slash rates by a half-point this month, a day after clamoring for them, supporting Treasury yields and the dollar.

This week sees the earnings season ramp up and a blackout period for Fed speakers prior to next week’s policy decision. On the trade front, some Chinese companies are applying for tariff exemptions as they make inquiries about buying U.S. agricultural products, more than a week after President Donald Trump complained that China hasn’t increased its purchases of American farm products.

“The start of earnings season has been very positive, but the price action on the major indexes has not been,” said Edward Moya, a strategist at Oanda Corp. “It appears markets are waiting to break and this could be the week that happens.”

Meantime, protests in Hong Kong heated up as an otherwise peaceful protest march of over 100,000 people turned tense late Sunday. In Japan, Shinzo Abe won a majority in the country’s upper-house elections, but won’t get the two-thirds of seats needed to revise the country’s pacifist constitution.

Here are some key events coming up:

    Earnings season rolls on with companies including: Amazon.com, Alphabet, Unilever, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Boeing.
    China holds the opening ceremony of its technology board in Shanghai. About two dozen local start-ups are making their debut on the Nasdaq-style exchange.
    U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor is announced on Tuesday, with Boris Johnson expected to become the new Conservative leader and PM.
    Thursday brings the European Central Bank policy decision. Economists widely expect officials to signal their readiness to cut interest rates and potentially broaden stimulus. Some see the chance of an immediate rate cut. ECB President Mario Draghi holds a briefing afterward.

These are the main moves in markets:
Stocks

    The S&P 500 fell 0.6% on Friday.
    Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.6%.
    Hang Seng futures dipped 0.5%.
    Futures on Austraila’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.4%.

Currencies

    The yen was flat at 107.75 per dollar.
    The offshore yuan rose 0.1% to 6.8779 per dollar.
    The euro bought $1.1218, little changed.

Bonds

    The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose about three basis points to 2.06%.

Commodities

    West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 0.6% to $55.63 a barrel.
    Gold was down 1.4% to $1,425.37 an ounce. - Bloomberg