Asia Stocks Mixed as U.S. Senate Passes Tax Cuts: Markets Wrap

Publikuota: 2017-12-20
Toru Hanai („Reuters“/„Scanpix“) nuotr.
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Toru Hanai („Reuters“/„Scanpix“) nuotr.
 

Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday as U.S. legislators headed toward the final passage of a tax-cut package that has helped spur optimism of faster American economic growth and lift global equity gauges to historic highs.

Japan’s Topix index closed at its highest level since November 1991, while stocks in Hong Kong and China declined. Futures on the S&P 500 Index edged higher after the underlying gauge slipped from a record Tuesday. Longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields held near the highest since October. The dollar stayed within recent ranges. Oil climbed after news of a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles.

The U.S. Senate approved the tax-cut legislation in a 51-48 party line vote, bringing President Donald Trump to the brink of his first major legislative victory. The House of Representatives voted to approve the tax bill Tuesday, but will have to vote again because that draft didn’t comply with Senate rules. With corporate and individual tax rates set to drop, the measures are largely anticipated to add to growth over the next year or two, but the longer-term impact is less certain.

South Korean stocks underperformed, as tourism-related companies including cosmetics makers dropped after a report that China is again banning package tours to its neighbor. Casino stocks in Hong Kong climbed amid signs of a strengthening profit outlook in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub.

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Once the U.S. tax bill is behind, equities in Asia could refocus on the region’s own prospects in 2018, with forecasts for world-leading growth offering a tailwind for corporate earnings, at least in the minds of some.

"If anybody’s looking for cheap markets in the world, you find them in Asia -- I mean, 13 times is very low compared to the rest of the world," Hartmut Issel, head of Asia Pacific equity and credit at UBS AG Wealth Management in Singapore, said on Bloomberg Television, referring to valuations relative to earnings. "We have upgraded" Asian equities excluding Japan, he said.

Among the key events investors will be watching this week:

The U.S. and U.K. publish updated estimates of third-quarter GDP. The Bank of Japan meets on Thursday to set monetary policy. Catalonia votes in an election Thursday that will pose a test for the Spanish region’s secession movement.And these are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Japan’s Topix index was up 0.3 percent at the close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.1 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.6 percent. Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.3 percent after the underlying gauge declined 0.3 percent Tuesday. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.1 percent.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed. The euro traded at $1.1844 after climbing 0.5 percent Tuesday. The Japanese yen was at 112.94 per dollar after slipping 0.3 percent.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries jumped seven basis points Tuesday, to 2.46 percent. It slipped one basis point in Wednesday trading in Asia. Australian 10-year yields increased about six basis points, to 2.63 percent.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at $57.71 a barrel after advancing 0.7 percent Tuesday. Gold was at $1,264.29 an ounce.

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