In Asian Equity stocks wobbled on Thursday as investors braced for any surprises from the UK election, a European Central Bank policy meeting and congressional testimony from ex-FBI director James Comey who was fired by President Donald Trump last month. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent to 19,924.86 and South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.1 percent to 2,361.70. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent to 26,013.65 and the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China was up less than 0.1 percent to 3,141.18. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was practically unchanged at 5,668.80. Singapore shares gained as much as 0.4 percent, with telecom and industrial stocks leading the index.
In Currency Markets Sterling held steady near a two-week high on Thursday, supported by expectations that Prime Minister Theresa May’s party will win a majority in Britain’s election, while the euro held steady ahead of a European Central Bank policy announcement. The pound traded at $1.2960, staying near a peak of $1.2970 set on Wednesday, its highest level since May 25. Opinion polls on Wednesday showed that May is on course to increase her majority in parliament in Thursday’s election, suggesting her gamble to call the vote to strengthen her position in Brexit negotiations will pay off. The dollar slipped 0.3 percent to 109.52 yen, edging back in the direction of Wednesday’s low of 109.115 yen, its lowest level in about seven weeks.
In Commodities Markets crude futures edged up in early Asian trading on Thursday following heavy losses in the previous session after official data showed that U.S. inventories rose for the first time in 10 weeks, reawakening concerns of a supply glut. U.S. crude futures were up 24 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $45.96 a barrel. On Wednesday, they closed down 5.1 percent, or $2.47 a barrel, to the lowest settlement since May 4. Brent crude prices rose 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $48.35 a barrel, after falling 4.1 percent in the previous session, also to the lowest since May 4. Crude inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels in the week ended June 2, compared with expectations for a decline of 3.5 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said.
In US Equity Markets stocks rose on Wednesday despite a sharp decline in energy shares after written testimony from former FBI director James Comey did not add major revelations about an investigation into Russian meddling with last year’s U.S. presidential election. Investors were concerned that any additional revelation could dampen already flagging momentum for President Donald Trump’s agenda of lower taxes and lax regulations. The S&P 500 gained 0.16 percent, to 2,433.14 and the Nasdaq Composite 0.36 percent, to 6,297.38. The largest percentage gainer on the S&P 500 was Signet Jewelers, which rose 4 percent, while the largest decliner was Newfield Exploration, down 7 percent.
In Bond Markets Japanese government bond prices slid across the board on Thursday, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising to a 2-month high, as an edgy market reacted negatively to a report regarding Bank of Japan’s stance on its massive stimulus programme. The two-year JGB yield was 1.5 basis points higher at minus 0.105 percent after reaching minus 0.090 percent, its highest since February 2016. The 10-year yield climbed 3 basis points to 0.070 percent, its highest since early April. Yields of two-year and five-year JGBs have risen steadily this week as the market reacted negatively to the BOJ’s recent reductions in the amount of shorter-dated debt it buys at regular purchasing operations.