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Asia stocks go guarded ahead of U.S. inflation test

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November 8, 2021

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian share markets were mixed on Monday as risk assets found support from the upbeat U.S. October payrolls report, but faced another test later in the week from a reading on U.S. inflation that could spook the rate horses.

The congressional passage of a long-delayed U.S. $1 trillion infrastructure bill cheered investors, though a broader social safety net plan remains elusive.

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Data out over the weekend also showed China’s exports beat forecasts in October to deliver a record trade surplus, although a miss on imports added to evidence of a slowing in domestic demand.

Moves were modest with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan off 0.2%. Japan’s Nikkei lost early gains to dip 0.1%, short of a recent five-week peak.

Chinese blue chips dithered either side of flat, stuck in a range that has held for almost four months.

Nasdaq futures were off 0.4%, after 10 straight sessions of gains which left the index looking overextended. S&P 500 futures dipped 0.2%, while EUROSTOXX 50 futures eased 0.1% and FTSE futures were flat.

Friday’s robust U.S. payrolls report included upward revisions to the previous couple of months and another strong reading on wages.

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Tightness in the labour market combined with dislocation in global supply chains should result in another high reading for U.S. consumer prices due on Wednesday, with any upside surprise likely to rekindle talk of an earlier Federal Reserve hike.

Analysts note an alternative measure of core trimmed mean inflation has already picked up markedly to an annual 3.6%.

“Another acceleration in the monthly annualised trimmed CPI will reinforce our view that the Fed is behind the curve,” said Kim Mundy, a senior economist & currency strategist at CBA.

“The longer the FOMC waits to tighten monetary policy, the greater the risk the FOMC tightens more to bring inflation back under control.”

No less than six Fed officials are speaking on Monday, with the most attention likely on Vice Chair Richard Clarida who is talking on Fed and ECB policy.

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After some wild swings, Treasuries still managed to end last week with a rally, thanks partly to a huge drop in UK bond yields where short-dated debt enjoyed its best week since 2009 after the Bank of England skipped a chance to hike.

That led the market to push out the likely timing and pace of tightening not just there, but in Europe and the United States too. Fed Funds now have a rate rise fully priced by September 2022, instead of July, a second not until February 2023 instead of December 2022.

Yields on 10-year Treasuries dived 10 basis points on the week and were last at 1.47%.

The drop took a little steam out of the dollar, which had hit a more than one-year high after the payrolls data. The dollar index was holding at 94.331, from a top of 94.634.

Still, the BoE’s shock decision left sterling down 1.4% over last week and trading at $1.3473, while the euro touched a 16-month trough before steadying at $1.1556.

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The dollar was also trying to sustain its bull run on the Japanese yen at 113.54, above support around 113.25.

The retreat in bond yields was a boon for gold, which offers no fixed return, and lifted it to $1,818 an ounce.

Oil prices firmed after OPEC+ producers rebuffed a U.S. call to accelerate output increases even as demand nears pre-pandemic levels. [O/R]

Saudi Aramco also raised its official selling price of crude to all buyers across the globe.

Brent rose another $1.01 to $83.75 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained $1.07 to $82.34.

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(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Richard Pullin)

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U.S. stock futures, oil regain some ground after Omicron battering

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November 29, 2021

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian markets regained a little composure on Monday as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would really derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks.

Oil prices also bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday’s shellacking, while the safe haven yen took a breather after its run higher.

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The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off.

Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, although a South African doctor who had treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild.

“There is a lot we don’t know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more,” said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB.

“Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery.”

Trading was erratic early on Monday but there were signs of stabilisation as S&P 500 futures added 0.8% and Nasdaq futures 0.9%.

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Both indices suffered their sharpest fall in months on Friday with travel and airline stocks hit particularly hard.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.1% but was off early lows. Likewise, Japan’s Nikkei pared early losses to be down 0.9%.

Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures down 11 ticks. The market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks.

Two-year Treasury yields edged up to 0.55%, after falling 14 basis points on Friday in the biggest drop since March last year. Fed fund futures had pushed the first rate rise out by a month or so.

The shift in expectations undermined the U.S. dollar, to the benefit of the safe haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc.

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Early Monday the dollar had steadied somewhat at 113.81 yen, after sliding 1.7% on Friday. The dollar index held at 96.190, after Friday’s 0.7% drop.

The euro paused at $1.1294, following its rally from $1.1203 late last week.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant.

The economic diary is also busy this week with China’s manufacturing PMIs on Tuesday to offer another update on the health of the Asian giant. The U.S. ISM survey of factories is out on Wednesday, ahead of payrolls on Friday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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In commodity markets, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday.

“The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December,” wrote analyst at ANZ in a note.

“Such headwinds are the reason it’s been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly.”

Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24.

Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce.

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(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Richard Pullin & Shri Navaratnam)

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Nissan Motor to spend $17.6 billion to accelerate electrification

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November 29, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co said on Monday it will spend 2 trillion yen ($17.59 billion) over the next five years to accelerate vehicle electrification as it bets tighter carbon emission restrictions will spur demand for electric cars and hybrids.

Japan’s No. 3 car maker will introduce 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EV), and plans to introduce all solid-state batteries by March 2029, it said in a statement.

Nissan’s deeper push into battery-powered cars comes as consumer demand for such vehicles grows in key auto markets such as China and the United States and as its competitors release new electric vehicles.

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Although still only a small portion of vehicles on the road, global electric car registrations in 2020 grew 41% even as the overall car market contracted by almost a sixth, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Nissan, like other Japanese car makers, however, has yet to commit to completely abandoning fossil-fuel vehicles.

At the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow this month, major car makers, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co, signed on to a declaration that committed them to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040.

($1 = 113.7000 yen)

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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Shares of Macau casino operator Suncity suspended -HKEX

Published

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd were suspended on Monday after its chief executive was believed to be among 11 people arrested by Macau authorities on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering.

The South China Morning Post reported that Macau police said on Sunday a 47-year-old businessman surnamed Chau was among those arrested. Alvin Chau is head of Suncity.

Suncity could not be reached for comment. Shares of the company last closed at HK$0.255.

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(Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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