Asian stocks track Chinese gains, pound finds a floor

Reuters TOKYO | Updated on September 04, 2019 Published on September 04, 2019

File photo   -  REUTERS

Stocks followed a firmer Chinese lead on Wednesday after a report showed growth in the country's service sector accelerating despite broader economic headwinds, while the pound halted its decline on hopes a no-deal Brexit may yet be averted.

In early European trade, the pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 0.75 per cent, Germany's DAX futures gained 0.75 per cent and Britain's FTSE futures advanced 0.5 per cent.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 per cent, while the blue-chip CSI300 index gained 0.25 per cent after activity in China's services sector expanded at the fastest pace in three months in August, according to a business survey.

MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan snapped two days of losses and gained 0.6 per cent. South Korea's KOSPI advanced 0.4 per cent and Japan's Nikkei added 0.2 per cent.

Expectations that global bond yields will stay lower for longer amid a central bank shift to more accommodative policy also supported equities.

“Lower yields could prompt a recovery in investments, and this is a factor shoring up equities,” said Junichi Makino, chief economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, regarding market moves following the release of Tuesday's poor US manufacturing activity data.

The US manufacturing sector contracted in August for the first time since 2016 amid worries about a weakening global economy and rising trade tensions between China and the US, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) report on Tuesday showed.

In light of the weak ISM reading the 10-year US Treasury stooped to 1.429 per cent on Tuesday, its lowest since July 2016. It pulled back slightly from the trough and last yielded 1.470 per cent.

“As the decline in US yields show, the markets will be urging the Fed on to do more even though a September rate cut is already priced in,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

According to CME's FedWatch tool, traders have almost fully priced in a 25 basis point interest rate cut at the Fed's Sept. 17-18 policy meeting, while expectations for another 25 bps reduction being implemented at the October meeting have risen to 61 per cent from 53 per cent over the past month.

Pound finds support

Sterling was last up 0.2 per cent at $1.2107 after falling on Tuesday to $1.1959, the lowest level since October 2016.

The pound's bounce came after a British cross-party alliance defeated British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an effort to block a ”no-deal” Brexit, leading the premier to push for a snap election.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies stood at 98.933 after rising overnight to 99.37, its highest level since May 2017, having lost some ground in the wake of Tuesday's poor ISM reading.

The euro was steady at $1.0975, after sliding to a 28-month low of $1.0926 overnight as investors braced for a potential interest rate cut by the European Central Bank next week.

The Australian dollar hovered near a one-week high of $0.6783 as traders pared expectations for an October rate cut after Australia's second quarter economic growth matched expectations.

Still, Australia's growth was the slowest in a decade, keeping alive the prospect of central bank easing and limiting the Aussie's gains.

US crude oil futures rose 0.5 per cent to $54.20 per barrel, trimming some of the previous day's large losses. The contracts had shed more than 2 per cent on Tuesday after the weak US ISM data raised concerns about a weakening global economy.



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Published on September 04, 2019
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