Asian shares cautious ahead of Fed, corporate earnings

Asian shares were cautiously higher on Wednesday as investors paused ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s policy decision while oil prices jumped on hopes demand will pick up as many countries lift some of the coronavirus-related restrictions.

Asian Shares

“The market narrative remained centered around recent competing themes with stimulus and reopening flagged as large tailwinds…accompanied by concerns about behavioural changes in the household and corporate sectors weighing on growth,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment strategy at Perpetual.

  • In early Asian trade, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.2% for its third straight day of gains.
  • Japan’s markets were closed for a public holiday.
  • Australia climbed 0.2% and South Korea rose 0.3%.
  • New Zealand shares slipped 0.6%.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, the S&P 500 lost 0.5% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.4%.

Currency Markets

  • The dollar weakened against the Japanese yen to 106.60 on concerns the coronavirus could spread further than previously thought if businesses reopened prematurely.
  • The euro was up 0.2% at $1.0840 though the euro index eased after Fitch cut Italy’s credit rating to BBB-, just one notch above “junk” status.
  • The dollar index against a basket of currencies fell 0.1%.

Commodities

  • In commodities, US crude jumped 9% to $13.44 per barrel, and Brent was up 1% at $20.65.
  • US crude was trading above $50 a barrel just in February.
  • Gold was a shade weaker at $1,706.32 an ounce.

Source: Reuters

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