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Asia to open amid firmer dollar as investors await corporate earnings

A firming dollar will set the stage as Asia markets open for trade Friday following solid U.S. economic data, and investors will be looking ahead to more corporate earnings due during the session.

The greenback firmed on the back of better-than-expected U.S. durable goods orders for the month of June. A measure of orders for U.S.-made capital goods, the rise in orders last month was the fifth consecutive monthly increase in the metric.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of six major currencies, stood at 93.914 at 6:39 a.m. HK/SIN, up from an overnight low of 93.152, but off a session high of 94.103. The greenback also firmed against the Japanese currency, to fetch 111.20 yen, compared to levels around the 111.1 handle seen since the middle of last week.

Uncertainty over the Trump administration’s ability to push through proposed policies after the Republican health care bill fell through has weighed on the U.S. currency for the past few weeks. A slight change in the Federal Reserve’s language in a statement released at the end of the Federal Market Open Committee meeting saw the dollar fall to its lowest point in more than a year on Wednesday.

More recently, the Republican plan to introduce a border adjustment tax was abandoned after GOP leaders acknowledged the “many unknowns associated” with the policy in a statement Thursday.

In Asia, futures pointed to a slightly lower open for Japanese equities. Nikkei futures in Chicago were off 0.2 percent at 20,040 and Osaka futures were down 0.25 percent compared to the benchmark index’s last close of 20,079.64.

Meanwhile, Australian SPI futures were lower by 1.16 percent at 5,718 against the S&P/ASX 200’s Thursday close of 5,785.010.

Major indexes on Wall Street closed lower following a decline in technology stocks on a bout of profit taking. The sector had notched an intraday high earlier in the day. The S&P 500 edged down 0.1 percent, or 2.41 points, to close at 2,475.42 and the Nasdaq declined 0.63 percent, or 40.56 points, to end the session at 6,382.19. The Dow Jones industrial average bucked the trend and rose 0.39 percent, or 85.54 points, to close at 21,796.55.

On the earnings front, regional markets are likely to continue focusing their attention on corporate results as businesses continue to report.

Hong Kong-listed insurer AIA Group reported operating profit after tax rose 16 percent to $2.26 billion in the first half of the year, the company said in a statement issued to the Hong Kong Exchange Friday. Other Asian corporates due to report include Yahoo Japan, Nomura Holdings and TEPCO.

Meanwhile, oil prices gained to touch a two-month high in the overnight session after taking a breather during Asian trading hours Thursday.

Brent crude rose 1 percent to settle at $51.49 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.6 percent to settle at $49.04 a barrel. Those levels marked the highest settlement prices for both contracts since May 30, according to Reuters.

The economic calendar for Friday is fairly crowded. South Korea kicked off data releases, with industrial output and other indicators at 7:00 a.m. HK/SIN. Japan is expected to release household spending, CPI and unemployment data for June at 7:30 a.m. HK/SIN and retail sales numbers are due at 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN. Singapore is slated to announce second-quarter unemployment figures at 10:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

In Europe, investors are expected to keep an eye on consumer confidence data released at 5:00 p.m. HK/SIN. In addition, U.S. GDP due during the stateside trading day will be closely watched by markets.

Source: cnbc china
Asia to open amid firmer dollar as investors await corporate earnings

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