Asia-pacific stocks retreat as corona virus Delta-strain casts shadow over growth

06/08/2021 Equities markets in Asia dipped on Friday, failing to catch lead from Wall Street as the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus across the region heightened worries about the its economic recovery. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed at record levels on Thursday after a spate of strong corporate earnings and a further decline in U.S. unemployment claims. Eyes are now on the jobs report for July due later today. Shares fell in Hong Kong and China. Japan fluctuated, with Nintendo Co. weighing after a profit miss. U.S. futures remained steady. The dollar was supported on Friday in the lead up to the release of U.S. employment data; the Euro lost about 0.41% on the dollar this week, and was last seen drifting around $1.1821. The rand dipped, from R14.3820, to R14.7500 levels after the announcement of the new South African parliamentary executive – cabinet reshuffle. The local currency is currently on the backfoot 0.93% to the dollar at R14.5200.

Gold headed for a weekly drop as investors awaited a key U.S. jobs report on Friday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy path. The bullion has been trading in a narrow range this week, currently keeping head above $1800 level mark.
Crude oil headed for its biggest weekly loss on demand risks from Covid-19; Brent crude dropped 6.46% this week, while U.S. WTI slipped 6.6% for the comparative period. Currently, brent is drifting around $71.39%, while WTI is hovering below $70 a barrel.

The JSE dipped 0.76% to 68,371.23 points and the Top-40 0.88%, on Thursday. Banks and financially rallied, cushioning the loss of miners and Naspers on the local bourse. Banks rose 4.55% and financials 3.42%. Industrial metals dropped 3.79%, resources 3.63% and precious metals 3.59%. Nedbank led the gains in its sector, rising the most since May 2020, up 9.33% to R188.40. Absa added 8.28% to R148.92, FirstRand 4.55% to R57.50, Standard Bank 4.19% to R131.65, Investec 2.30% to R58.19 and Capitec 1.07% to R1,703.06. Markets now await US nonfarm payroll data on Friday. Top-40 futures marginally up 70points, IG makerts.

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European stocks ended at record highs on Thursday, as strong results from Novo Nordisk and Siemens helped outweigh weak mining stocks and losses in major German retailers whose earnings were hurt by COVID-related disruptions. The pan-European STOXX 600 ended 0.4% higher at a record high of 469.96 points, its fourth consecutive peak this week. France’s Cac-40 gained 0.52 and Germany’s DAX was 0.33% stronger. The UK’s FTSE 100 was 0.05% flat. BoE voted unanimously to leave interest rates at their record low of 0.1% and voted 7-1 to maintain the £875bn target for government bond purchases. European futures remained flat.

Wall Street stocks closed higher on Thursday over this week’s jobless claims report from the Labor Department. At the close, the Dow was up 0.78%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.60% and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 0.78% firmer.
U.S. jobless claims declined for a second week, falling 14,000 from the prior week to 385,000. U.S contracts remain pretty unchanged on Friday morning.

Here are some key events to watch this week:
• Reserve Bank of India monetary policy decision, briefing Friday
• The U.S. jobs report is expected to show another robust month of hiring Friday

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific ex. Japan lost 0.35%, dragged down by Chinese blue chips CSI 300 which fell 0.73% and Hong Kong flat 0.01%. The Nikkei225 inched higher on Friday, up 0.38%, as traders adjusted positions ahead of key U.S. jobs data later in the day and a long weekend in Japan. Strong earnings that has lifted the Nikkei this week continued, with Fujikura surging 14.80%, Nikon Corp rallying 8.35% and video game developer Konami Holdings up 5.90%. Australian shares were little changed on Friday as losses in heavyweight miners were countered by strong gains in the tech sector. The S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.06%.