Asian stocks to track US drop; dollar declines

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(Oct 15): Stocks in Asia looked set to follow their U.S. peers lower after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin played down the chances of striking a stimulus deal before next month’s election. The dollar retreated and Treasuries were steady.

Equity futures edged down in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. The S&P 500 sank as traders also parsed earnings from big banks, with Wells Fargo & Co. tumbling after reporting a plunge in profit and warning that net interest income could “get a little bit softer” in 2021. Bank of America Corp. slid amid an increase in trading revenue that was just a fraction of its competitors’ gains, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. outperformed after earnings per share jumped to a record that was almost twice as high as analysts predicted.

Energy stocks joined a rally in oil and as Concho Resources Inc. soared 10% on a news report that ConocoPhillips is in talks to acquire the company.

Mnuchin said at a conference that getting a stimulus agreement “before the election and executing on that would be difficult.” His remarks came after another in a long series of calls with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that have failed to seal a deal. While he hoped for bipartisan support for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest idea -- a vote on a narrow bill next week to help small businesses -- Democratic leaders have no appetite for piecemeal measures now.

“This has been an ongoing drama,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management. “They’re getting close, they’re not getting close, we’re still talking, we’re not talking. The latest twist I heard is nothing is going to get done until the election. That’s why I think you’re getting the market selling off a little bit.”

Meanwhile, the Joe Biden campaign on Wednesday denied a New York Post report that said the former vice president met with a senior official from a Ukrainian energy firm that was at the center of a controversy over the dismissal of a prosecutor investigating the company.

Elsewhere, the British pound trimmed gains as investors awaited more news on Brexit negotiations. Boris Johnson told European Union leaders he is disappointed by the slow progress of talks, saying he will decide after a key summit this week whether it is worth continuing to work for a deal. Traders will be watching a speech from the Reserve Bank of Australia governor for clues on policy next steps.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • 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

  • The S&P 500 dipped 0.7% on Wednesday.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.2%.
  • Hang Seng futures earlier lost 0.5%.
  • Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.2%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dipped 0.2%.
  • The euro bought US$1.1749.
  • The yen traded at 105.11 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.7137 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries was steady at 0.73%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.3% to US$41.11 a barrel.
  • Gold was at US$1,901.52 an ounce.