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Asian Stocks Endure Thin Session, ECB Policy Call Coming Up

Asian Stocks Endure Thin Session, ECB Policy Call Coming Up

David Cottle, Analyst


Talking Points:

  • Asia Pacific stocks were short of clear direction Thursday
  • Australian economic data missed forecasts, but the Aussie Dollar held up
  • The stage is set for the European Central Bank President

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Most Asian stocks had a slightly firmer tone Thursday thanks to a stronger US lead, but trade was narrow and moves were small.

US President Donald Trump Wednesday put his support behind a short-term debt-ceiling extension, part of a package which includes relief funding for the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. If the bill were to pass Congress it would at least head off the threat of Federal debt default, a prospect stock markets clearly liked.

There was little local data to drive Asian trade. The Australian Dollar got a modest knock from trade balance and retail sales numbers which missed expectations, but it didn’t stay down for long.

The Nikkei 225 ended up, but only by 0.2%. Australia’s ASX 200 was flat and Chinese stocks wilted a little, both on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

Foreign exchange markets were becalmed, although the Japanese Yen continued to gain on the US Dollar. The Euro was steady as investors looked forward to the European Central Bank’s September monetary policy decision, due as ever after the Asian close. The ECB is not expected to alter any of its settings but, with the European economy looking more robust, there had been some speculation that President Mario Draghi may in his commentary leave the door open to a reduction in stimulus. The consensus seems to be still that he may opt to wait, but his post-decision press conference is sure to draw a large crowd.

Gold prices were steady, while crude oil prices slipped back a little but remained close to three-week highs as refineries came back on line after Hurricane Harvey.

Thursday’s economic highlight is yet to come, of course, in the form of that ECB decision, but it isn’t quite the only game in town. Eurozone Gross Domestic Product numbers are coming up too, along with initial US jobless claims. Canadian building permit levels will be under the spotlight too.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter: @DavidCottleFX

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.