Asian shares set to rise on broader U.S. rally, dollar gains

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FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are reflected on a screen showing stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Alwyn Scott

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian equities were set to open higher on Thursday after stronger U.S. economic data and the prospect of additional U.S. stimulus prompted sharp, and broader, gains on Wall Street, while the dollar extended its upward move.

Investors in Asia await readings on services activity in China and Japan, which are expected to show continued expansion in China, and possibly a move out of contraction for Japan.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures rose 0.69% in early trading.

{{178|Japan’s NiNikkei 225 futures added 0.04%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures lost 0.15%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.10%.

The positive sentiment will be helped by the U.S. shift toward lagging sectors.

“Equity bulls will love the fact that the (U.S.) market was up quite strongly” on Wednesday, rather than selling off on higher real bond yields and a stronger dollar, said Chris Weston, Head of Research at the Pepperstone Group.

“People just used that to reweight toward value areas of the market,” he said. “Value effectively took over.”

On Wall Street, the three major equity indexes moved higher, but gains were led by defensive sectors such as utilities as the high-flying tech sector paused.

New data on Wednesday showed U.S. private employers hired fewer workers than expected for a second straight month in August, suggesting that the labor market recovery was slowing as the coronavirus pandemic persists and as government money to support workers and employers dries up.

Sluggish job growth also emerged in the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which showed furloughed workers increasingly being laid off permanently in some parts of the United States.

A separate report showed factory orders rose more than expected in July, pointing to continued improvement in the manufacturing sector.

The mixed data may have added to expectations for Washington to reach a deal on new stimulus to counteract the pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 454.84 points, or 1.59%, to 29,100.5, the S&P 500 gained 54.19 points, or 1.54%, to 3,580.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 116.78 points, or 0.98%, to 12,056.44. The climb marked the biggest daily percentage gain for the S&P since July 6.

The dollar strengthened against a basket of major currencies for a second straight day from lows of more than two years, while the euro pulled back from the key $1.20 level reached in the prior session.

The dollar index rose 0.454%, with the euro down 0.02% to $1.1851.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.03% versus the greenback at 106.22 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.335, down 0.01% on the day.

For a graphic on Rouble tumbles:

Benchmark 10-year notes last traded to yield 0.6477%.

In commodities, oil retreated as weekly government data showed U.S. gasoline demand fell in the latest week, an indication that economic recovery from the pandemic may be slower than expected.

U.S. crude settled down 2.92% at $41.51 per barrel and Brent was at $44.43, down 2.52% on the day.

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