Asian stocks to rise; pound hit by Brexit discord

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(Sept 8): Asian stocks looked set for modest gains Tuesday after European shares climbed, showing resilience to the tech-led downdraft in the U.S. The pound sank on concern the U.K. is inching closer to a no-deal Brexit.

Futures were higher in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. Europe’s Stoxx 600 rose Monday with broad gains led by automakers, while contracts on the S&P 500 Index pointed higher. Oil extended its retreat below US$40 a barrel as a price cut by Saudi Arabia signaled fuel consumption is wavering in key markets. The dollar gained. Chinese assets will be in focus after President Donald Trump said he intends to curb the U.S. economic relationship with the country.

Investors returning Tuesday from the U.S. Labor Day holiday will take stock of a rally that’s fizzling as doubts grow over positioning and extreme valuations. U.S. technology shares, which have posted stratospheric gains through the depths of the pandemic, showed signs of buckling at the end of last week amid reports that huge options bets were fanning their gains.

“I don’t think this is a start of a downturn in asset prices,” said Robert Greil, chief strategist at Merck Finck Privatbankiers AG in Munich. “We’re only in the first phase of the economic recovery, which makes a major downturn unlikely. Naturally, setbacks are buying opportunities in such an environment.”

Meanwhile, President Trump contrasted himself with Joe Biden by threatening to punish any American companies that create jobs overseas and to forbid those that do business in China from winning federal contracts.

Elsewhere, the pound extended its drop to the longest since June as the prospects of a trade accord with the European Union looked increasingly remote. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday he’s willing to walk away from talks rather than compromise on what he sees as the core principles of Brexit, and set an Oct. 15 deadline to reach an agreement.

Here are some key events coming up:

    The ECB will probably hold rates on Thursday but indicate that downside risks have intensified, suggesting further easing is possible before year-end.
    U.S. CPI data is due Friday, with consumer prices expected to rise in August for a third straight month.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Futures on the S&P 500 Index gained 0.6% from Friday’s closing level.
Nikkei 225 futures rose 0.5% earlier.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index futures added 0.4%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index futures rose 0.5% earlier.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 1.7%.

Currencies

The yen was little changed at 106.29 per dollar.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.3%.
The euro was at US$1.1813.
The British pound was trading at US$1.3170 after dropping 0.9%.

Bonds

Germany’s 10-year yield added 1.1 basis points to -0.464%.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.8% to US$39.07 a barrel.
Gold was at US$1,933.64 an ounce.