Asia stocks set for muted start

Employees work at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan. (Bloomberg pic)

SYDNEY: Stocks in Asia looked set for a cautious start following a topsy-turvy U S session that saw the S&P 500 finish flat, giving no fresh impetus to a global equity rally that’s losing steam.

Treasury yields rose amid a hefty slate of corporate debt issuance.

Futures were little changed in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

Sentiment was partly dampened as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer dialled back expectations for a sweeping trade deal with China, while traders attention switched to Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney, who said that President Donald Trump committed crimes while in office in a hotly contested House hearing.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers that he’ll soon announce a plan to stop shrinking the central bank’s US$4 trillion balance sheet. The dollar edged higher.

The recent escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan is adding to a litany of concerns from trade talks to global growth concerns that are keeping investors on edge.

Global equities are closing out two strong months with a whimper after a more than 10% surge since the start of this year.

Investors will be looking for the latest read on China’s economy Thursday with business expectations data due as well as GDP figures in the US

Elsewhere, the pound climbed as the UK Parliament approved an amendment that sets down in writing the pledges Prime Minister Theresa May made Tuesday about a no-deal Brexit and a possible delay on the timing.

Oil prices jumped by the most in almost a month after a plunge in US stockpiles showed Opec and its allies tightening global supplies.