Asian Stocks Set for Muted Start; Dollar Steady: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks looked set for a muted start to the week as traders awaited a Federal Reserve policy meeting and a flurry of earnings reports against the backdrop of the worsening pandemic. The dollar was steady after Friday’s gains.

Equity futures signaled modest climbs in Australia and Hong Kong and were little changed in Japan. The S&P 500 Index slipped Friday for the first day in four amid concern that a new coronavirus strain may be deadlier than earlier variants. Treasury yields retreated.

Global stocks have edged back from all-time highs as additional virus lockdowns, the patchy rollout of vaccines and sparring over U.S. fiscal stimulus highlight risks to the global recovery. Investors are hoping Fed Chair Jerome Powell will provide reassurance after Wednesday’s policy meeting that $120 billion of monthly bond purchases won’t be tapered any time soon.

Vaccine distribution is key to escaping the Covid-19 outbreak but frustration over supplies is growing. In a weekend Facebook post, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described delays in consignments by Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc as “unacceptable.” Meanwhile, the U.K.’s health minister warned that coronavirus vaccines may be less effective against new variants of the disease.

Elsewhere, the World Economic Forum kicks off, virtually. China’s Xi Jinping is the opening day headliner. With the global economy reeling, topics will range from fair economic and social systems to digitization and the climate crisis.

These are some key events coming up in the week ahead:

  • Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Tesla Inc., Facebook Inc., UBS Group AG and Samsung Electronics Co. are among companies reporting results.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to speak at the World Economic Forum’s “The Davos Agenda 2021” online event on Monday.
  • People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang and European Central Bank Chief Economist Philip Lane speak at a conference on Monday.
  • Data on U.S. home prices and consumer confidence come Tuesday.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee monetary policy decision and briefing by Chair Jerome Powell are scheduled for Wednesday.
  • Fourth-quarter GDP, initial jobless claims and new home sales are among U.S. data releases Thursday.
  • U.S. personal income, spending and pending home sales come Friday.

These are the main moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 fell 0.3% on Friday.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 were little changed.
  • Hang Seng futures added 0.2%.
  • Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2%.


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed 0.4% on Friday.
  • The yen was flat at 103.78 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was little changed at 6.4940 per dollar.
  • The euro was flat at $1.2171.
  • The British pound was little changed at $1.3682.


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries ended last week at 1.09%.


  • West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.6% Friday to $52.27 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1,856 an ounce.

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