Asia stocks to track US rise on economic outlook

Futures were in the green in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks look set to climb Friday (May 21) after technology companies led a Wall Street rebound on economic optimism and easing concern about the possibility of reduced United States stimulus.

The dollar held a decline.

Futures were in the green in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

Nearly all major industry groups in the S&P 500 climbed and gains in stocks like Apple and Tesla helped the Nasdaq 100 rally past its 50-day moving average.

A drop in US initial jobless claims put the focus back on the economic recovery and away from fears that price pressures imperil loose financial conditions.

Contracts on the tech-heavy gauge and the S&P 500 fluctuated.

Treasury yields retreated, and weaker-than-expected demand for an auction of 10-year inflation-protected debt suggested confidence in the Federal Reserve's narrative that the recent acceleration in inflation is unlikely to be sustained.

Oil slid and the pause in this year's commodity boom continued.

Gold is around the highest price in more than four months. Its claimed virtual rival, Bitcoin, steadied after a volatile cryptocurrency slump this week.

The global economic revival, the risk of a significant pick up in inflation and Covid-19 flareups in some parts of the world continue to shape market moves.

For now, growth optimism is overshadowing the latest Fed minutes, which flagged the possibility in upcoming policy meetings of a debate on scaling back the exceptional stimulus that's bolstered a variety of assets.

"While inflation has been the star of the show, keep in mind that the Fed's mandate is twofold, with employment as the other side," said Mr Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial.

"The jobless claims read shows once again that we're heading in the right direction, but we're a ways away from where we were pre-pandemic."

Oil is trading around the lowest in nearly a month. Traders were assessing the likelihood of a renewed nuclear deal with Iran and the potential removal of sanctions on the country's crude exports.

Elsewhere, US President Joe Biden's tax agenda was in the spotlight. The Treasury Department detailed the administration's proposed measures to raise US$700 billion (S$932 billion) in additional revenue over a decade through Internal Revenue Service enforcement, including a requirement for cryptocurrency transfers worth US$10,000 or more to be reported to tax authorities.

Separately, the US also called for a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15 per cent.

Here are some key events this week:

- Data on existing US home sales for April are due on Friday

- Euro-area finance ministers and central bank chiefs hold an informal meeting

- A larger group of EU finance ministers and central bank chiefs will meet on Saturday

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

- S&P 500 futures were little changed as of 7.44am in Tokyo (6.44am in Singapore). The index rose 1.1 per cent. Nasdaq 100 contracts added 0.1 per cent. The gauge rose 1.9 per cent

- Nikkei 225 futures were up 0.2 per cent

- S&P/ASX 200 contracts rose 0.4 per cent

- Hang Seng futures advanced 0.4 per cent earlier

Currencies

- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was steady after falling 0.4 per cent

- The euro was at US$1.2228

- The British pound was at US$1.4190

- The Japanese yen traded at 108.79 per US dollar

- The offshore yuan was at 6.4333 per US dollar

Bonds

- The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined five basis points to 1.63 per cent

Commodities

- West Texas Intermediate crude trimmed a decline, rising 0.2 per cent to US$62.03 a barrel

- Gold was at US$1,876.73 an ounce

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