Asian shares slip before Fed decision on trade deal worries

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian share markets slipped on Wednesday, as the prospect of a rate cut by the Federal Reserve was countered by worries a Sino-U.S. first-stage trade deal could be delayed.

FILE PHOTO: A man is reflected on a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS shed 0.33% from Tuesday’s three-month high while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 lost 0.35% after hitting a one-year high the previous day.

On Wall Street overnight, the S&P 500 index touched a record intraday high, led by strong earnings from drug manufacturers such as Merck (MRK.N) and Pfizer (PFE.N), before ending down 0.08%.

Markets had erased gains after Reuters reported a U.S. administration official said an interim trade agreement between Washington and Beijing might not be completed in time for signing in Chile next month as expected.

A disappointing profit report from Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) kept the technology-rich Nasdaq in the red, with the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC falling 0.59%.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS slipped 0.06% in Asia on Wednesday from a 21-month high reached on Tuesday.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump outlined what he called the first phase of a trade deal with China earlier this month, investors have bet on a trade truce between the two countries, driving global equities higher.

Expectations of further U.S. monetary policy loosening also emboldened investors, with a reduction of 0.25 percentage point later in the day almost seen as a done deal.

“With a cut today completely priced in, markets are looking to the Fed’s stance on its policy outlook,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

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While Fed funds rate futures <0#FF:> fully price in a 25- basis-point cut on Wednesday, only about a 30% chance of another cut in December has been priced in, compared with about 70% earlier this month.

“I think the Fed will clearly indicate that a rate cut in December is not its main scenario,” said Tomoaki Shishido, macro strategist at Nomura Securities.

Fading expectations of aggressive rate cuts by the Fed have lifted the two-year U.S. bond yield to 1.644% US2YT=RR, compared with a two-year low of 1.368% in early October.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield stood at 1.833% US10YT=RR, near a 1-1/2-month high of 1.860% touched earlier this week.

That has helped to lift the dollar against the yen. The dollar was traded at 108.86 yen JPY=, after having hit a three-month high of 109.07 yen

The euro stood at $1.1107 EUR=, having bounced off from Tuesday’s low of $1.10735.

Sterling wobbled after Britain decided to hold an election on Dec. 12 following Prime Minister Boris Johnson winning approval from parliament for an early ballot aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock.

While Johnson seeks to gain a parliamentary majority to ratify his Brexit deal, the election would be highly unpredictable as Brexit has fatigued and enraged swathes of voters, while eroding traditional loyalties to the two major parties, Conservative and Labour.

The currency last traded at $1.2861 GBP=D4.

Oil prices slipped after an industry report that stocks at the Cushing delivery hub for the benchmark rose last week, shrugging off a drop in overall inventories.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 lost 0.47% to $55.28 per barrel while international benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 futures dropped 0.19% to $61.47 a barrel.

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Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Richard Borsuk


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