Asian Stocks Mixed, Focused On Trade. FOMC Minutes Approach
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Asian Stocks Talking Points:
- Wednesday saw a rather directionless session for stock markets
- Economic data were scant, with Australian wage data the only point of interest
- The US Dollar was generally a little weaker
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Asia Pacific stocks were mixed on Wednesday in a quiet session for local economic news, with investor focus still on the trade talks taking place in Washington DC between the US and China.
Some optimism has been engendered by President Donald Trump’s commentary to the effect that the end-March barrier beyond which new tariffs will be imposed could be flexible. He also said on Tuesday that the talks were going well, without elaborating much.
The Nikkei 225 was up 0.4% as its own close loomed, with Shanghai down 0.2%. The Hang Seng added 0.7% with the ASX 200 down 0.3%.
The Chinese Yuan made gains on a Bloomberg report that a more stable period for the currency was one facet of US trade negotiations. The Australian Dollar weakened initially on news that wage growth met expectations in the final quarter of the old year. The reaction was quite puzzling, but it remains clear that wage growth won’t be doing much to boost stubbornly low inflation anytime soon.
The US Dollar was generally lower, however, with Treasury yields heading down as investors looked toward the release of Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes later.
Gold prices were up modestly through the session while crude oil prices also gained as investors eyed OPEC production cuts and the effect of US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
Spot gold has reached peaks not seen since April 2018, with the highs of that year now back in the bulls’ sights.
Wednesday’s remaining economic data schedule is very light, other than those FOMC minutes which will be released long after Asian markets close. Only US mortgage-application levels and a speech from European Central Bank Chief Economist Peter Praet are likely to catch investors’ eyes.
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--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research
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