Asia lower as South Kore begins tightening

Wall Street gained ground again on Wednesday, with chipmakers and financials helping to push the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to record closing highs ahead of Jackson Hole; the Dow rose 0.11%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite 0.22% and 0.15% respectively.

Rising U.S. Treasury yields boosted rate sensitive financials, and sectors that stand to gain most from economic revival – smallcaps, chips and transports – were outperforming the broader market.

The session marked the S&P 500’s 51st record high close so far this year.

Tame economic data, including flat new orders for core capital goods, reinforced the notion that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is unlikely to hint at a shortened timeline for policy tightening at the virtual Jackson Hole Symposium, due to get underway on Friday.

European stocks ended unchanged on Wednesday as losses in Italian utilities outweighed gains in travel and bank stocks, while global markets were range-bound ahead of a policy update from the U.S. Federal Reserve this week.

The region-wide STOXX 600 index closed largely unchanged at 471.84 points after a record close on Wall Street. The European benchmark itself was just less than 1 percent away from its peak.

Travel and leisure stocks gained 1.8% to hit their highest level in almost two weeks, while banks rose 1.8%.

Utilities were the worst performing sector, falling 0.8% with major Italian utilities Terna, Snam and Italgas leading losses after brokerage RBC turned more negative on its expectations of future returns.

Germany stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Financial Services, Software and Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare sectors led shares lower.

At the close in Frankfurt, the DAX fell 0.28%, while the MDAX index lost 0.07%, and the TecDAX index lost 0.52%. Earlier this week, IHS Markit’s survey showed the pace of euro zone business growth dipped from July’s two-decade-high.

Asian shares stepped back on Thursday after a sharp rebound this week South Korean hogging headlines after the central bank raised its base rate by 25 basis points to 0.75%, the first major economy in Asia to do so; the Kospi was down 0.58%.

In early trading MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.22%, with the CSI down 1.97%, Hong Kong down 1.65% late in the session and Australia shedding 0.54%.

Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.06

Russian stocks were mildly lower on Wednesday following selective profit taking ahead of any signals on the global economy at Jackson Hole.

The Moscow Exchange index by 18:50 Moscow time fell by only 0.06% and amounted to 3886.64 points. The RTS index by 18:50 Moscow time fell by 0.44% – to 1,653.56 points.

Oil steadied after the biggest three-day gain since March with falling U.S. crude and fuel stockpiles adding some positive signs to a market that’s still grappling with the latest Covid-19 resurgence.

Oil was down Thursday morning in Asia, its first loss in four sessions, as COVID-19 outbreaks globally and restrictive measures ramp up fuel demand concerns.

Brent oil futures were down 0.62% to $70.84 by 3:49 AM GMT after jumping 1.7% on Wednesday. WTI futures fell 0.78% to $67.83 after gaining 1.2% during the previous session.

Gold was down on Thursday morning in Asia, with investors cautious ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve symposium that could provide cues to a timeline for asset tapering.

Gold futures inched down 0.10% to $1,789.15 by 4:16 AM GMT having fallen 0.7% during the previous session, the biggest one-day decline in more than two weeks.