While Wall Street is trading near records levels, volumes have been below average in the past few sessions as the US earnings season winds down and as traders avoid major bets ahead of a firmer handle on monetary policy.
All 10 major S&P 500 indexes were higher.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.3 percent. South Korea.KS11, Australia and Shanghai.SSEC all gained.
The dollar rose against most other currencies, hitting 100.30 yen from 100.23 yen in NY, while the euro eased to $1.1295 from $1.1307.
“Severely restrained inventory and the tightening grip it’s putting on affordability is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country last month”, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is due to speak Friday at an annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Investors still doubt the stars will align for a hike anytime soon, so a hawkish tone from Yellen would challenge that equanimity.
Barclays economist Michael Gapen said “Yellen could use her Jackson Hole speech to deliver a concrete message that a rate hike will happen in the coming months if USA job growth stays strong”. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.55 percent from 1.58 percent late Friday. The odds of a hike in December are slightly more than 50 percent.
“You can talk all you want but let´s face it: In the last seven years we have had one measly 25-basis-point hike”.
In commodity markets, oil remained under pressure after shedding 3 percent on Monday.
The losses more than wiped out Tuesday’s gains that were fueled by a report saying Iran could support efforts by Opec and Russian Federation to limit crude output, having previously said it was against the idea.
Oil prices were in the red, following some brief respite late Tuesday, after the American Petroleum Institute reported an increase of 4.5 million barrels in United States crude stockpiles last week. It hit a record high of 5,272.51. WTI crude (U.S.:US10Y) and Brent (U.S.:US10Y) last stood around $47.00 per barrel and $48.75 respectively, with prices being dampened after Goldman Sachs warned that the price rally in August had been overdone. In early morning, Dow futures were up 5 points, NASDAQ 100 futures were up 4 points and S&P 500 futures climbed 2 points.
Biotech stocks received a boost from Pfizer’s $14 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Medivation, which jumped almost 20 percent. The stock was the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500. The dollar index, which tracks the USA unit against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1 percent at 94.650. “Volatility (in gold) is very low, and that means people are waiting for new information that they can price in”, LBBW analyst Thorsten Proettel said. The euro fell to $1.1312 from $1.1324. The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) reference rate for the dollar stood at 67.19 and for Euro stood at 76.03.
The kiwi rose to 73.05 U.S. cents at 8am in Wellington from 72.79 cents yesterday.