Asian stocks firm but investors cautious ahead of Britain’s election


Asian stocks stabilized on Wednesday but investors were cautious ahead of an election in Britain, a European Central Bank meeting, and proof at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing by James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by President Donald Trump.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS crept up 0.1 percent, with Hong Kong and mainland China stocks leading the region higher.

European stocks are set to reflect the cautious tone with major index stock futures suggesting a listless start. FFIc1

Japanese stocks .N225 were the main slugs as investor’s aware holdings after the key index hit a near-two year high last Friday in thin trading.

Hong Kong .HSI, however, profited from supported buying by mainland Chinese investors.

All the events scheduled for Thursday are worried with possibilty for investors, but evidence by former FBI chief James Comey posed a potential danger to Trump’s economic agenda, and perhaps even his presidency.

A senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities, Hikaru Sato said, “The market is especially focused on Comey’s testimony.”

Reports suggest Comey plans to reveal conversations in which Trump reportedly pressured him to drop his investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who was fired for failing to disclose conversations with Russian officials.

Risk-off attitude pushed government bond prices high and yields lower, while propping up gold and the Japanese yen.

Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR briefly fell to seven-month lows of 2.129 percent, the lowest since Nov. 10, before recovering to 2.16 percent.

The contracting U.S. bond yields further weakened a dollar, already handicapped by heightened political uncertainty.

The dollar luxuriate near a six-week low against the safe-haven yen JPY=, quoted around 109.44 yen.

Sterling GBP=D4 firmed to 1.2905 per dollar, but held in a tight trading range ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Earlier opinion polls suggested the opposition Labour Party were nearly ruling Conservatives, but a poll released on Tuesday put Prime Minister Theresa May on course to expand her parliamentary majority.

The euro EUR=EBS also held firm at $1.12665 against the dollar.

The ECB policy meeting could lead to some discussion of dropping some of the central bank’s vow to ramp up stimulus if needed, four people with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters last week.

In this high risk environment, gold XAU= was in favor, quoted around the $1,294 per ounce. It has gained nearly 7 percent in the past month.

The Australian dollar AUD=D4 strengthened to a one-month high of $0.7540 after first-quarter growth numbers forced small covering by those investors who had expected a weaker performance.

Oil prices remained weak, with Brent crude futures brawling around $50 per barrel, in spite of tensions between Gulf Arab producers and falling U.S. inventories.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were trading at $50.06 per barrel down 0.1 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $48.12 per barrel, down 0.1 percent.

Source: Reuters

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