With UK elections, a European Central Bank policy meeting where policymakers may take a less dovish stance, and former FBI director James Comey’s Senate testimony all set for tomorrow, market participants will be wary of making big bets.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan crept up 0.1 percent, with Hong Kong and mainland China stocks leading the region higher.
“The sentiment has turned bullish as investors expect mainland investors to keep relatively undervalued Hong Kong property counters,” said Alex Wong, a fund manager at Ample Capital Ltd in Hong Kong, with $130 million under management.
Robust purchases by mainland Chinese investors have boosted Hong Kong stock trading volumes in recent days.
Net buying of Hong Kong shares via the Shanghai and Shenzhen connect scheme have now extended into 24 and 26 consecutive weeks, respectively, according to an analysis by Kenneth Chan, a strategist at Jefferies in Hong Kong.
Elsewhere, Japanese stocks .N225 were the main laggards as investors lightened holdings after the key index hit a near-two year high last Friday in thin trading.
“The market is especially focused on Comey’s testimony,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities.
Reports suggest former FBI director Comey plans to disclose tomorrow conversations in which U.S. President Donald Trump allegedly pressured him to drop his investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, who was fired for failing to disclose conversations with Russian officials.
The risk-off undertone pushed government bond prices up and yields lower, while propping up gold and the Japanese yen.
Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields briefly fell to seven-month lows of 2.129 percent, the lowest since Nov. 10, before recovering to 2.15 percent.
In currency markets, the dollar’s weakness against major rivals reverberated across markets as shrinking U.S. bond yields further impeded the greenback as it struggles amid heightened political uncertainty.
At its tomorrow’s meeting the ECB may even discuss dropping some of its pledges to ramp up stimulus if needed, four people with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters last week. The common currency EUR=EBS held firm at $1.12665 against the greenback.
Gold remained a firm investor favorite ahead of the UK election later this week with the precious metal holding strong around the $1,294 per ounce line. It has gained nearly 7 percent in the past month.
British Prime Minister Theresa May looks on course to increase her parliamentary majority in tomorrow’s election, an opinion poll showed yesterday, shortly after another survey suggested the race with the opposition Labour Party was neck and neck.
The Australian dollar AUD=D4 hopped to a one-month high of $0.7540 as first-quarter growth numbers beat investors’ worst fears, forcing a round of short-covering among bears.
Oil prices dipped, with Brent crude futures struggling around $50 per barrel as global fuel markets remained oversupplied, although rising tension in the Middle East and falling U.S. inventories lent some support.
Brent crude futures were trading at $50.07 per barrel by 0354 GMT, down 5 cents, or 0.1 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $48.13 per barrel, down 5 cents, or 0.1 percent. – Reuters