Stocks in Asia Set for Muted Start; Dollar Gains

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(March 6): Asian stocks were set for a cautious start Wednesday as U.S. equities struggled to make headway in the absence of market-moving catalysts. The dollar climbed for a fifth day.

Futures pointed to a flat start in Japan, while contracts in Australia and Hong Kong nudged higher, after the S&P 500 Index closed little changed. The yield on 10-year Treasuries remained steady as Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said it may take policy makers “several meetings” to determine whether risks to the U.S. economy will clear up or more seriously hamper growth in 2019.

“Investors have already priced in a lot of good news,” Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors, told Bloomberg TV in New York. “What we now need to see is a real stabilization in economic growth and corporate profits.”Investors are looking for firm details about a possible U.S.-China trade deal that’s helped drive a surge in global equities over the past two months. The bond market signals more caution and Morgan Stanley is now predicting Treasury yields will drop as low as 2.35 percent by the end of the year. Traders will get the latest read on U.S. growth Friday with the monthly jobs report after China on Tuesday lowered its target for economic growth.

Elsewhere, oil closed little changed as traders awaited updates on the U.S.-China trade front and a report on American crude stockpiles.

Here are some key events coming up:

Bank of Canada Governor is expected to keep rates on hold Wednesday due to lingering uncertainty on housing and investment, while sticking to his message that borrowing costs eventually need to head higher. European Central Bank policy makers are expected to leave rates unchanged amid a deteriorating outlook. President Mario Draghi will hold a news conference on Thursday after the decision. The U.S. jobs report Friday may show hiring moderated in February. Nonfarm payrolls may have increased by 185,000 while the jobless rate fell to 3.9 percent, according to estimates.

These are the latest moves in markets:

Stocks

The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent. Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 were flat. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1 percent. Hang Seng futures rose 0.3 percent.

Currencies

The yen dipped 0.1 percent to 111.89 per dollar. The offshore yuan was flat at 6.7043 per dollar. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.2 percent. The euro fell 0.3 percent to $1.1307. The British pound was little changed at $1.3178.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 2.72 percent.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.6 percent to $56.25 a barrel. Gold added 0.1 percent to $1,287.59 an ounce. - Bloomberg