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Asia Opening: WTI climbs as economic data spur optimism

Asia Stocks Steady Ahead of Fed Meeting; Oil Rises

Dollar near lowest level in more than week versus major peers
West Texas crude oil climbs as economic data spur optimism

Asian stocks were little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited a Federal Reserve meeting to gauge the extent of central bank support for the economic recovery. Crude oil extended gains.

Shares were little changed in China, Hong Kong and South Korea, and saw modest gains in Japan and Australia. S&P 500 futures were flat after the benchmark rose for a third consecutive session, as gains in technology shares helped offset a late slide in financials. Nasdaq 100 contracts erased earlier losses seen in the wake of news that Facebook Inc. might face a possible U.S. antitrust lawsuit. Treasuries and the dollar were steady.

While a gauge of Asian stocks is up for a fifth straight day, the longest stretch since June, investors are looking for catalysts to take markets higher after an impressive global recovery from March lows sputtered in the first half of September.

The Fed is expected to maintain its dovish stance at its policy meeting Wednesday after earlier saying it will shift to a more relaxed approach on inflation. Central bank stimulus has been shoring up sentiment in the face of risks from the pandemic, the U.S. presidential election and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

“Given the volatility we have seen in the stock market in the last couple of weeks — as more evidence of some bubble-like characteristics in the exposure to growth stocks has been revealed — it’s hard to see a new, strong rally ahead of the U.S. election,” said Chris Iggo, chief investment officer of core investments at AXA Investment Managers.

Meantime, President Donald Trump said a vaccine shot could be ready within four weeks. Trade issues also continue to simmer, with the World Trade Organization ruling that the U.S. violated international regulations by imposing tariffs on more than $234 billion of Chinese exports.

Here are some key events coming up:

Wednesday sees the FOMC policy decision and news conference from Chair Jerome Powell.
Bank of Japan, Bank Indonesia and Bank of England policy decisions come Thursday.
Friday sees quadruple witching — the quarterly expiration of futures and options on indexes and stocks — in U.S. markets
These are the main moves in markets:

Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.2% as of 12:06 p.m. in Tokyo. The gauge increased 0.5% on Tuesday.
Japan’s Topix index added 0.3%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was little changed.
Shanghai Composite slid 0.1%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.9%.
South Korea’s Kospi index gained 0.1%.
Euro Stoxx 50 futures was little changed.
The yen rose 0.1% to 105.30 per dollar.
The offshore yuan was at 6.7676 per dollar.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed.
The euro was at $1.1847.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries was steady at 0.68%.
Australia’s 10-year yield remained at about 0.87%.
West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 1.6% to $38.91 a barrel.
Gold rose 0.2% to $1,958.58 an ounce.

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