Asian stocks to slip amid US stimulus deadlock

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(Oct 14): Asian stocks looked set for modest declines Wednesday after their U.S. counterparts retreated as earnings season began and there was no sign of a quick end to the fiscal stimulus stalemate. Treasuries climbed with the dollar.

Futures pointed lower in Japan and Australia. Hong Kong’s markets are expected to resume trading after a tropical storm forced closures on Tuesday. S&P 500 contracts were little changed after banks earlier dragged down the U.S. benchmark, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. sinking as investors worried that third-quarter earnings signaled just a pause in pain from soured loans. Eli Lilly & Co. dropped after saying that enrollment in a government-sponsored clinical trial of its antibody therapy had been paused out of safety concerns.

Elsewhere, traders will be watching a speech from China President Xi Jinping in Shenzhen on Wednesday, where he is expected to lay out a vision for the region’s growth. The Bank of Korea is likely to keep its key interest rate on hold Wednesday, amid signs of economic improvement. Crude oil pared a sliver of its overnight advance.

Prospects for U.S. fiscal stimulus before next month’s election dimmed on Tuesday, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding the Trump administration revamp its latest offer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell pushing a smaller-scale strategy that she quickly rejected. His proposal to vote next week on just one provision appeared to stoke opposition even from President Donald Trump, who tweeted “Go big or go home!!”

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride in terms of communication from both sides,” said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management. “There are still going to be significant pockets of stress in the economy,” and a fiscal package could help bridge the gap until we do get a vaccine, he added.

Meanwhile, Democrats grilled U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for hours about abortion rights, health-care law, guns and election disputes, but made little progress derailing her likely Senate confirmation and a strengthened conservative majority on the court.

On the coronavirus front, countries across Europe widened curbs to try to regain a grip on the pandemic. Infections rose at the fastest pace since April in Germany, the Dutch prime minister ordered a partial lockdown and France reported a surge in patients needing intensive care.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • Results from Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs are due Wednesday; Morgan Stanley’s earnings are scheduled for Thursday.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a deadline of Thursday to thrash out the outline of a European Union trade deal.
  • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde leads off the virtual annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group. Through Oct. 18.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures were little changed as of 8:30 a.m. in Tokyo. The index dipped 0.6% on Tuesday.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3%.
  • Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.9%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index held its 0.5% jump from Tuesday.
  • The euro bought US$1.1744.
  • The yen traded at 105.48 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.7365 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell more than four basis points to 0.73%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 0.2% to US$40.11 a barrel.
  • Gold was at US$1,893.24 an ounce.