Asian stocks ease as caution persists despite calmer markets


Asian stocks came under pressure on Thursday as a mixed Wall Street session gave investors few immediate reasons to increase their risk positions following the recent social media-driven trading chaos.

Markets have calmed significantly in the past few days with the Cboe Volatility index down on Wednesday as wild swings in stock prices of GameStop and other social media favorites subsided and the retail trading frenzy faded.

However, caution continues to dominate sentiment despite positive corporate earnings and firm signs of economic recovery.

The Australian S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.34% during early trade and Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.35%. The lackluster start to Asian trade followed a mixed Wall Street session with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.12%, the S&P 500 gaining 0.10%, but the Nasdaq Composite losing 0.02%.

Supporting U.S. sentiment were strong earnings by technology giants Alphabet Inc and Inc.

The Google parent company’s beat sent shares soaring nearly 7% on Tuesday, but some analysts warned the move was too extreme.

“After lagging its FAANG peers in 2020, shares of Alphabet are making up for lost time in 2021,” said Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group.

“You’d expect GOOGL to at least consolidate a bit before it’s able to build on (year-to-date) gains.”

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 inched 0.26% higher while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures lost 0.16%.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.04%.

Oil markets continued to advance as inventories hit their lowest level since March. U.S. crude recently rose 0.45% to $ 55.94 per barrel and Brent was at $ 58.67, up 2.11% on the day.

U.S. Treasury yields continued to rise on the hopes of a large stimulus package and the dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies as investors felt more confident in the U.S. recovery trajectory than in Europe’s recovery. The benchmark 10-year yield was last up 3.2 basis points at 1.1391%

The 30-year bond was last up 4.9 basis point at 1.9267%, while the 20-year yield hit 1.735%, its highest level since that bond maturity was relaunched in May 2020.

The dollar index was up 0.07% at 91.145 in afternoon trading in New York after rising to a two-month high of 91.308 during the session.

Spot gold fell 0.2% to $ 1,833.93 per ounce and U.S. gold futures settled up 0.1% at $ 1,835.10.