Asian markets mixed in early trade, Tokyo reopens after trading glitch

WASHINGTON: Asian markets were little changed on Friday, as a U.S. stimulus deal remained out of reach and investors waited on fresh U.S. employment data for a read on the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. markets kicked off the fourth quarter closing higher on Thursday while the dollar sank, as investors tracked stimulus talk updates throughout the day. The September employment report from the Labor Department looms large, following new layoff announcements from the likes of Disney and Goldman Sachs.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was up 0.35% after the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) resumed normal trading after its worst-ever outage brought the world’s third-largest equity market to a standstill.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.1%, while Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.7%.

In the United States, an additional economic stimulus package remained elusive despite renewed efforts from Washington negotiators.

After a day of negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she did not expect an imminent agreement with the Trump administration. It remains unclear if policymakers can get something done before the Nov. 3 election.

New data showed U.S. consumer spending was still up in August, but its momentum was slowing as increased unemployment benefits began to dry up. If policymakers cannot agree on more support, the economic toll could worsen.

“The risk is that if disposable incomes continue to fall, the recovery in personal spending will slow or even reverse. The fiscal stimulus stalemate suggests additional government support payments to households are unlikely soon,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia currency analyst Kim Mundy in a note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.13%. The S&P 500 gained 0.53% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.42%.

Stimulus talks pushed the dollar to a more than one-week low against a basket of major currencies overnight, with the Chinese yuan, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars all gaining against the greenback. The dollar index was down 0.1% at 93.722.

Gold rose after its worst month since November 2016 while oil prices continued to fall, adding to a 10% September drop.

Spot gold prices rose 1.04% to $1,904.97 an ounce. U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled up 1.1%.

Oil prices fell more than 3% as rising coronavirus cases around the world dampened the demand outlook, while a rise last month in member output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries also pressured prices.

In early Asian trade, Brent crude futures were trading down 0.8% at $40.60 a barrel. U.S. crude futures were down 0.8% at $38.41 a barrel.

China’s stock and bond markets, foreign exchange and commodity futures markets are closed Oct. 1-8 for the Golden Week holiday. South Korea and Hong Kong markets are also closed on Friday for holidays.