Asian Stocks Slip As Risk-Off Sentiment Grips Markets

Posted June 08, 2017

Dow Jones closed down by 0.22 percent, S&P 500 ended down 0.28 percent, Nasdaq finished the day down by 0.33 percent.

Asian markets continued searching for direction on Wednesday as traders awaited news expected on Thursday, including the European Central Bank review, results from the United Kingdom election and testimony from former FBI Director James Comey to the Senate. Traders also bought back the dollar ahead of the European Central Bank meeting after a softer-than-expected May U.S. employment report on Friday hit the currency and stoked doubts that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in the second half of this year.

U.S. Treasury debt prices fell on Monday in thin trading, as investors booked profits after gains the previous session on a U.S. employment report that underwhelmed expectations and suggested a more cautious Federal Reserve policy beyond June.

Oil is down 0.6% at $47.89/bbl, gold is 0.5% lower at $1292/ounce and the 10-year Treasury yield is flat at 2.15%. On Tuesday, it gained 1.1 percent to hit its highest level since November a year ago at $1,295.97.

USA crude was 0.6 percent lower at $47.12 a barrel on Tuesday, after falling 0.55 percent on Monday.

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

For the US Dollar: a more optimistic European Central Bank could translate into a stronger EUR/USD; a Tory majority in parliament could restore sentiment of a 'soft Brexit, ' and help lift the British Pound; and the Comey testimony will likely breathe life into renewed allegations of interference, which will sap more of the Trump administration's time away from crafting legislation.

The lead of British Prime Minister Theresa May over the opposition Labour Party ahead of the general election has narrowed to just one percentage point, according to a poll conducted before the attacks in London on Saturday.

News on Monday of US services sector activity slowing in May as new orders tumbled also hit the dollar.

Meanwhile, ECB policymakers are set to take a more benign view of the economy when they meet on Thursday and will even discuss dropping some of their pledges to ramp up stimulus if needed, four sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters last week. That contrasted with an earlier ICM poll showing the Conservatives with an 11 point lead, which sent sterling higher on Monday.

Spot gold was up 1.1 percent at $1,294.34 an ounce by 2:25 p.m. EDT (1825 GMT), having earlier touched its highest since November 9 at $1,295.97.

Japan's Nikkei dropped 0.6 percent, tripped by a stronger yen.

South Korea's Kospi was down 0.36% at 2,360.14, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was off 0.09% to close at 25,974.16. Qatari stocks fell another 1.6 percent after plunging the most since 2009 on Monday when Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries severed most diplomatic and economic ties to the country.

Early Asian markets such as Australia and Japan are pointed lower.

Chinese shares and Hong Kong shares bucked the trend, rising nearly 0.1 percent and 0.35 percent respectively.