Asia shares sluggish after Wall Street's tech-inspired rally

HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian shares made cautious gains on Tuesday as the lift from Wall Street’s tech-fueled rally was checked by investors’ fresh concerns about Sino-U.S. tensions.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.43%, edging closer to its pre-pandemic late January high, though European markets were set to open slightly down as EUROSTOXX 50 futures eased 0.27% and FTSE futures fell 0.35%.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were flat.

The Trump administration announced on Monday it would further tighten restrictions on China’s Huawei Technologies Co, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips, a move set to disrupt global supply chains.

However, sentiment was supported by the Nasdaq, which surged to a record high close on Monday and the S&P 500, which approached its own record level, both lifted by technology stocks.

“It is likely for the rest of this year we will see a continued push into technology and technology related areas of the market,” said Daniel Gerard, senior multi asset strategist at State Street Global Markets, based in Singapore.

“In order for areas like energy or financial services to take off we need an economy that’s returning to normal.”

Most Asian markets traded in a narrow band. Chinese blue chips rose 0.18%, Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.24%, both continuing directions of travel set on Monday.

Australia’s benchmark rose 1% as new coronavirus infections in the country eased although news China, the country’s largest trading partner, had launched an anti-dumping probe into imports of Australian wine weighed on winemaker shares.

Investors had to balance the moves against Huawei with Trump’s comments that China was meeting its obligations under the trade deal, and news that a review of the deal was postponed.

“No one wants to disrupt the careful ballet that’s going on right now, as we are very close to the U.S. elections and disrupting markets on either side doesn’t help anyone,” said Gerard.

The U.S. dollar softened against most currencies after disappointing manufacturing and mortgage data, Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Joseph Capurso wrote in a note.

Moves were generally cautious ahead of Wednesday’s release of the Federal Reserve minutes, with speculation that the Fed will adopt an average inflation target, which would seek to push inflation above 2% for some time.

Bitcoin hovered near the 13 month high it hit on Monday.

On the commodities front, oil prices edged lower on Tuesday, giving up a slice of their recent gains after OPEC+ said the producer grouping was almost fully complying with output cuts.

Brent crude was down 11 cents, or 0.24%, at $45.27 a barrel, after gaining 1.3% on Monday. U.S. crude was down 0.35%, at $42.74 a barrel, having risen 2.1% in the previous session

Safe haven gold closed higher after Berkshire Hathaway also disclosed a stake in Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp, one of the world’s largest mining companies.

Spot gold added 0.26% to $1,990 an ounce.

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