Stimulus, Brexit talks weigh on Asian markets

Stimulus, Brexit talks weigh on Asian markets

© Reuters. A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a stock quotation board outside a brokerage, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo © Reuters. A man wearing a protective face mask walks past a stock quotation board outside a brokerage, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo

By Pete Schroeder

(Reuters) – Asian markets looked set to slide Thursday as investors tracked negotiations with significant economic implications in the U.S. and Europe.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures were down 0.28% in early trading, while {{178|Japan's NiNikkei 225 futures were down 0.06%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index futures were down 1.15%.

On Wall Street, markets took a bit of a hit as investors awaited further news on economic stimulus and COVID-19 vaccines. And ongoing negotiations between the British and European Union over the terms of Britain's exit added another dash of uncertainty for investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.49%. The S&P 500 lost 0.90% after hitting a record high earlier in the day, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.99%.

In the U.S. Congress continued talks on additional economic stimulus, with House lawmakers voting to pass a one-week stopgap funding bill to give more time for talks.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the European Union on Wednesday it must scrap demands that he says are unacceptable if there is to be a Brexit trade deal to avoid a turbulent breakup in three weeks.

"Elevated levels of event risk surrounding the EU-UK trade talks … and ongoing negotiations on a fresh U.S. stimulus package in Washington continued to dampen market volatility," wrote analysts at ANZ Bank in a research memo.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) dragged down other big tech stocks on the news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and nearly every U.S. state had sued the social media company, saying it engaged in anticompetitive practices and should potentially be broken up.

A recent run of optimism on the back of positive vaccine news took a hit after officials in Britain, the first Western nation to adopt a wide vaccination effort, cautioned that people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely to the Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) vaccine.

The U.S. dollar rose for the fourth straight session Wednesday, with the dollar up 0.16% against a basket of currencies to 91.065. Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields rose on stimulus and vaccine hopes.

Oil futures were largely flat, while spot gold prices were down more than 2%, with the start of vaccine treatment reducing demand for the safe-haven investment.

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