Stocks in Asia looked on course for a mixed start Wednesday, following a late-day swoon for U.S. equities, as investors weighed optimism that more economies are moving toward easing lockdowns against cautionary comments from Federal Reserve officials. Oil surged.
Equity futures were modestly higher in Hong Kong, while contracts slipped in Australia. The S&P 500 earlier rose for a second day, led by gains in health care, utilities and information technology companies. The benchmark index’s gain of almost 2% was cut in half in the last hour of trading after Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida warned the economy will need more government support. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the central bank’s efforts are “very much an experiment.” President Donald Trump continued to blame China for the global pandemic, stoking fears the trade war will reignite. Treasuries dipped.
“There was a lot of cold water from Clarida on economic data,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director and market strategist at Robert W Baird & Co. “Technicals are really important right now. As we approached the end of the day there was that failure of breaking through those key resistance levels.”
Markets are struggling for traction after a rally in global equities that’s left prices more than 25% above their March lows. While China reopens Wednesday, Japan remains shut until Thursday and investors are keeping tabs on progress in the fight against the pandemic. Pfizer and BioNTech gave the first U.S. patients its experimental vaccines to fight Covid-19 as the companies race to have it ready for emergency use by fall.
Here are some key events coming up:
- The Bank of England has a policy decision on Thursday.
- Friday brings the U.S. jobs report for April, expected to show a severe impact from the pandemic. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists calls for a 21 million plunge in payrolls.
These are some of the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 added 0.9% on Tuesday.
- Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2%.
- Hang Seng Index futures earlier added 0.3%.
- The yen was at 106.57 per dollar.
- The offshore yuan traded at 7.1239 per dollar.
- The euro bought $1.0843.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose almost three basis points to 0.66%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude surged 24% to $25.28 a barrel.
- Gold was at $1,706.86 an ounce.
— With assistance by Alex Longley
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