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Asian shares

Asian shares hit four-month high as U.S., China recoveries gather pace – Investing.com

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Man wearing a face mask is seen inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building, as the country is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Man wearing a face mask is seen inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building, as the country is hit by a novel coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai

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By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – World shares inched towards a four-month high on Friday and industrial bellwether metal was set for its longest weekly winning streak in nearly three years, as recovering global data kept nagging coronavirus nerves at bay.

The market rally fuelled by record U.S. jobs numbers had largely blown itself amid a spike in U.S. COVID cases, though the fastest expansion in China’s services sector in over a decade and more stimulus ensured optimism remained.

Chinese shares had charged to their highest level in five years [.SS], helping the pan-Asian indexes to 4-month peaks, so the sight of European markets stalling early on took some traders by surprise.

Currency and commodity markets also had a subdued feel after an otherwise strong week for confidence-sensitive stalwarts such oil, copper =LX>, sterling and the Australian dollar, which all struggled on Friday.

“I think infection rates and fears of localised lockdowns have doused some of the enthusiasm,” said Societe Generale (OTC:) strategist Kit Jukes.

“We have three elements now; vaccine hopes, decent data in most places but also the return of infection rates which can make you nervous.”

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar rose slightly in early London trading. It was up less than 0.1% at 97.306 and still firmly on track for its biggest weekly fall since the first week of June.

The euro was down at $1.1226 and though it gained against the safe Swiss franc it fell versus the sometimes commodity-driven Norwegian crown.

S&P 500 futures were down 0.2% but volumes were lower than usual due to a U.S. markets holiday on Friday for Independence Day.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls surged by 4.8 million jobs in June, above the average forecast of 3 million jobs in June, thanks to rises in the hard-hit hospitality sectors.

But economists noted there were caveats to the upbeat headline figures.

The number of permanent job losers continued to rise, increasing by 588,000 to 2.9 million in June while the unemployment rate remains a chunky 7.6 percentage points above its February level. A Deutsche Bank (DE:) analysis put the U.S. unemployment rate behind all its developed market peers barring Canada.

The recovery also faces more headwinds as a surge of new coronavirus infections prompts U.S. states to delay and in some cases reverse plans to let stores reopen and activities resume.

More than three dozen U.S. states saw increases in COVID-19 cases, with cases in Florida spiking above 10,000.

Nevertheless markets are largely overlooking the spikes, taking the view that overall the situation was still improving overall.

Ten-year German government bond yields are up 5 basis points this week and set for their biggest weekly rise in a month, though they nudged down on Friday to -0.44%. Riskier Italian yields fell to 1.26% as well though, which is their lowest since late March. [GVD/EUR]

Oil prices also eased after an otherwise solid week. fell 0.65% to $42.86 a barrel while dropped 0.66% to $40.38 a barrel. Both were around $25 this time two months ago.

Copper prices were poised for a seventh consecutive weekly gain, their longest winning streak in nearly three years, despite a slight easing on the day after top supplier Chile had assured traders about supply.

Three-month LME copper was hovering at $6,040 a tonne, more than $1,500 up from lows it ploughed to in March. [/MET/L]

“The one issue that hangs over all the markets is will we see a surge in secondary infections that will trigger a second wave of national rather than regional shutdowns?” Malcolm Freeman, director of Kingdom Futures, wrote in a note.

(GRAPHIC: China recovery – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/oakpeaxznpr/20703S.png)

(GRAPHIC: COVID-19 in U.S. – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/azgvorzmapd/20703D.png)

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Asian stocks

Asian stocks rise, boosted by ‘re-opening optimism’ – CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Asian stocks and US futures rose on Tuesday, as a growing number of cities and countries around the world take steps toward re-opening.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) climbed 2.6%, leading the way in the region.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday lifted the state of emergency for the entire nation, as the coronavirus outbreak there eases.
Abe is also eyeing a fresh stimulus package, saying that he would work to increase the government’s stimulus packages to more than 200 trillion yen ($1.9 trillion), or about 40% of the annual output of the world’s third biggest economy. Japan’s cabinet is expected to approve the new package on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) advanced around 2%, adding to Monday’s gains.
In Hong Kong, investors are moving on from last week’s sharp losses. On Friday, the Hang Seng had its worst day in nearly five years after Beijing moved to pass a controversial national security law, a blow to the financial hub’s autonomy.
China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong, Xie Fang, moved to reassure rattled investors on Monday evening. The legislation won’t affect freedoms of speech, press, publication and assembly, Xie said, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
Xie added that the controversial legislation will protect the law-based operation of international businesses in Hong Kong.
The “clouds of dust in Hong Kong have settled quicker than anyone had expected. Local risk sentiment isn’t nearly as gnarly as everyone had feared,” Stephen Innes, global market strategist at AxiCorp, wrote in a note on Tuesday.
There is also a sense of “re-opening optimism” among investors, said Innes. They are upbeat about lockdowns in the United States and elsewhere coming to an end.
South Korea’s Kospi Index (KOSPI) was up about 1.6%. China’s Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) and India’s Sensex both increased about 0.7%.
US stock futures also rose, as Americans crowded onto packed beaches in Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia and Indiana for the Memorial Day weekend. Many states have begun lifting the restrictions of businesses and public spaces.
Dow futures are up 460 points, or around 1.9%. Futures for S&P were up 1.8% and Nasdaq futures were up about 1.9%.
Oil prices, meanwhile, jumped during Asian trading hours Tuesday. US crude futures were up 3.4% to trade at $34.38 per barrel. Brent crude, a global oil benchmark, rose 1.9% to $36.22 per barrel.
CNN’s Laura He and Kaori Enjoji contributed to this report.

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Asian shares

Asian shares push higher as more countries ease lockdowns – Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares followed Wall Street higher on Monday as investors looked ahead to more countries restarting their economies, even as some reported an unwelcome pick up in new coronavirus cases.

FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks walk near an overpass with an electronic board showing stock information, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

South Korea warned of a second wave of the new coronavirus as infections rebounded to a one-month high, while new infections accelerated in Germany.

Yet millions of French people are set to cautiously emerge from one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns on Monday, as countries across Europe ease restrictions.

Investors seemed determined to stay optimistic and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS firmed 1.1%.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 added 1.6% and Chinese blue chips .CSI300 0.7%. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 opened soft but bounced as the morning wore on and was last up 0.5%.

EUROSTOXX 50 futures STXEc1 gained 0.8% and FTSE futures FFIc1 0.7%.

Wall Street had rallied on Friday after the April payrolls report proved dire but not quite as awful as analysts’ worst fears.

“Just getting the worst jobs report in history out, is at the margins helpful for risky assets,” said Alan Ruskin, head of G10 FX at Deutsche Bank.

“Since late March there has been an extraordinary divergence between the real economy and financial risk, with the latter helped by unprecedented policy accommodation,” he added.

“Markets know the real economy data is awful. We are less sure of how long markets aided by policy, can defy the real economy, if the growth improvement is slow.”

The bond market certainly seems to think any recovery will be slow with two-year yields US2YT=RR hitting record lows at 0.105% and Fed fund futures <0#FF:> turning negative for the first time ever.

The rally in prices has come even as the U.S. Treasury plans to borrow trillions of dollars in the next few months to plug a gaping budget deficit.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is due to give a key note speech on Wednesday and analysts suspect he will rule out taking rates negative, at least for now.

The decline in U.S. yields might have been a burden for the dollar but with rates everywhere near or less than zero, major currencies have been stuck in tight ranges.

The dollar was a shade firmer on the yen at 106.94 JPY= on Monday but well within the 105.97 to 109.37 band that has lasted since late March. The euro was a fraction softer at $1.0830 EUR= but above last week’s low at $1.0765.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was idling at 99.837 =USD, sandwiched between support at 98.769 and resistance around 100.40.

In commodity markets, gold edged up 0.5% to $1,708 an ounce XAU=.

Oil prices opened about 1% lower as a persistent glut weighed on prices and the coronavirus pandemic eroded global oil demand, even as some governments began to ease lockdowns.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures lost 54 cents to $30.43 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 fell 53 cents to $24.21.

Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam

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Asian Dollar

Dollar up, Asian stocks slip as U.S. pins blame for virus on China – Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The dollar inched higher, stock markets struggled for traction and oil dropped on Monday as a U.S.-China spat over the origin of the coronavirus put the brakes on optimism about an economic re-start as countries around the world ease restrictions.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/File Photo

In thinned trade, with China and Japan on holiday, U.S. stock futures were last down 0.7%. FTSE futures fell 0.6% and European shares seemed set to return from a May Day break with a slump. EuroSTOXX 50 futures fell 3%.

U.S. crude snapped three sessions of gains with a 6% drop and the safe-haven U.S. dollar rallied to one-week highs against the risk sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 2.5%, pulled down by Hong Kong where the Hang Seng returned from a two-session holiday with its biggest drop in six weeks.

The moves extended a dour start in May which began on Friday with bleak U.S. data and the threat of fresh trade-war hostilities between the world’s two biggest economies.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added to worries with fresh efforts to pin blame for the pandemic on China, where the new coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated.

The latest salvo came from Pompeo on Sunday who said there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the virus emerged from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Pompeo did not provide evidence, or dispute a U.S. intelligence conclusion that the virus was not man-made while an editorial in China’s Global Times said he was “bluffing,” calling on the United States to present the evidence.

But Pompeo’s comments double down on Washington’s pressure on China as U.S. deaths and economic damage mount.

An editorial in China’s Global Times said Pompeo did not have any evidence the virus came from the lab in Wuhan and that he was “bluffing,” calling on the United States to present the evidence.

“The risk of a pullback has increased this week,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone.

“The United States is not alone in publicly taking aim at China, but whether it’s Trump, Kudlow or Pompeo the narrative is more frequent, and traders are selling yuan,” he said.

With Chinese markets shut on the mainland, offshore yuan shot out to a six-week low of 7.1560 per dollar before clawing back to flat by mid-session.

The Australian dollar dropped below the 64-cent mark for the first time in a week, falling 0.5% to $0.6385.

Futures for benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasuries were unmoved at an implied yield of 0.50%, as demand for safe-haven assets was firm. Gold rose back to $1,700.00 per ounce.

BLAME GAME

An increase in tension between Washington and Beijing comes as the pandemic wallops the world economy.

Asia’s factory activity was ravaged in April, business surveys showed on Monday, and the outlook dimmed further as restrictions on movement to contain the coronavirus outbreak froze global production and slashed demand.

In the United States, manufacturing plunged to an 11-year low last month, consumer spending has collapsed and some 30.3 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment.

“Trump is looking to get re-elected,” said Nomura’s joint head of APAC equity research Jim McCafferty, likening his attacks on China to “Japan-bashing” by then-president Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

“We’ve seen this before,” he said. “And I think as governments around the world become increasingly domestically focused…finding a villian elsewhere makes a lot of sense.”

That means a challenge for investors looking for income which seems to have, for now, stumped even billionaire Warren Buffett.

Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, made an almost $50 billion loss in the first quarter, but ended it with a record cash pile and nothing to spend it on.

Buffett said he remains keen on making a big acquisition, but has not provided financial support to companies as he did during the 2008 financial crisis because he saw nothing attractive enough.

Elsewhere in currency markets, the safe-haven yen rose 0.2% to 106.72 per dollar while the euro, pound and New Zealand dollar slipped in trade considerably lightened by the “Golden Week” holiday in Japan, which runs until trade resumes on Thursday.

In commodity markets, U.S. crude futures recovered from early lows but were kept under pressure by worries about oil oversupply and crumbling demand, even as some U.S. states and cities start to ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures last sat at $18.74 per barrel, down $1, while Brent futures were down 1%, or 27 cents, at $26.22.

The U.S. April jobs report will be released on Friday, but some analysts say it may not fully reflect how many people have been thrown out of work.

Editing by Kim Coghill and Jacqueline Wong

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Asian giant

Asian giant hornet invasion becomes latest 2020 concern – NBC News

An invasion of Asian giant hornets became the latest 2020 worry — and internet sensation — as the term “murder hornet” began to trend over the weekend.

The first spotting of the 2-inch Asian giant hornet, or vespa mandarinia, was verified in the United States in December, according to the Washington state Agriculture Department. The insect does not generally target people or pets, but it is a deadly threat to at-risk honeybee hives.

Giant hornets of this species apparently enter a “slaughter phase” during which they decapitate honeybees and destroy entire hives in the span of a few hours, according to the department.

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The Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest species of hornet.Washington State Department of Agriculture

Although the species was first spotted months ago, the term “murder hornet” circulated on Twitter over the weekend after a New York Times report Saturday on efforts to stop the species from annihilating honeybees.

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As the globe reels with the upheaval of normal life during the coronavirus pandemic, the internet latched onto “murder hornets” as yet another strange development of 2020.

“Murder hornets. Sure thing, 2020,” actor and comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted Saturday. “Give us everything. Hypno-frogs. Fecal blizzards. Toilet tsunamis. A CATS sequel. We can take it.”

Murder hornets. Sure thing, 2020. Give us everything. Hypno-frogs. Fecal blizzards. Toilet tsunamis. A CATS sequel. We can take it. https://t.co/DSDpgKhKzQ

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 2, 2020

An invasion could have severely negative impacts on the environment and public health, the Washington Agriculture Department warned.

The species has longer stingers with more toxic venom that could pose a danger to people if the insects feel threatened. And unlike honeybees, the Asian giant hornets can sting repeatedly, entomologist Chris Looney said in a video posted to the department’s YouTube page last month.

Authorities are working to find nests and destroy them before they can reproduce, according to Looney.

Looney warned people against trying to kill the hornets themselves and to avoid their nests entirely. Instead, the public is encouraged to report a possible sighting to local authorities.

Image: Doha MadaniDoha Madani

Doha Madani is a breaking news reporter for NBC News. 

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