Asian Shares, Dollar Pare Gains After U.S. Tax Bill Vote Delayed

TOKYO (Reuters) -
Passersby are reflected in an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters/Issei Kato)

Asian shares and the dollar rose modestly early on Friday in the wake of Wall Street’s advances, but those gains were pared as investors awaited the Senate’s vote on tax reform legislation.

European stock futures were down 0.1 percent, suggesting a subdued opening for the region, with DAX futures and CAC futures up 0.1 percent and FTSE futures 0.1 percent lower.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was nearly flat on the day, after brushing a two-week low. For the week, it was 2.6 percent lower.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index finished a choppy session 0.4 percent higher, gaining 1.2 percent for the week.

“The market’s main focus is now whether the tax bill will pass or not,” said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

Late on Thursday, the Senate delayed voting on the bill as legislators wrestled with problems on an amendment sought by fiscal hawks to address a large expansion of the U.S. budget deficit projected to result from the measure.

The Senate adjourned, putting off any votes until Friday morning. It was still unclear whether a decisive vote on the bill would occur then.

On Wall Street overnight, major indexes marked gains, with sentiment lifted by apparent progress toward passage of the tax legislation. The S&P 500 hit a record closing high and the Dow Jones industrial average topped the 24,000 mark for the first time.

EMini futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.2 percent, edging lower after the Senate vote was delayed.

On Thursday, chances of passage of a Senate tax bill had been seen as rising, when influential Senator John McCain gave the bill his endorsement. The House had approved its own tax bill on Nov. 16.

News of McCain’s nod had pushed up U.S. Treasury yields to five-week highs, which underpinned the recently beleaguered dollar.

Yields also got a lift boost from U.S. data showing a rise in inflation and a decline in jobless claims, reinforcing expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike interest rates later this month, and several times in 2018.

But the greenback gave up some of those gains on Friday as yields edged lower after the tax vote’s postponement.

The 10-year Treasury yield stood at 2.408 percent in Asian trade, below its U.S. close of 2.415 percent on Thursday.

“We had good U.S. data overnight that added to rate increase expectations, but until there is an outcome on the tax reform vote, markets cannot move much,” said Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Markit in Tokyo.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, edged down 0.1 percent to 92.950 , though it was still up 0.2 percent for the week.

The dollar inched 0.1 percent higher to 112.65 yen after touching 112.690 earlier, its highest since Nov. 21, moving away from a 10-week low of 110.85 yen hit on Monday.

The euro was slightly up on the day at $1.1915, though below its two-month peak of $1.1961 scaled on Monday.

Bitcoin was down 5 percent at $9,437, holding above the previous session’s low of $9,000, but well shy of this week’s record high of $11,395. The cryptocurrency gained 55 percent in November.

Crude oil futures built upon their gains made on Thursday after OPEC and non-OPEC producers led by Russia agreed to extend output cuts until the end of 2018, while also signalling a possible early exit from the deal if the market overheats.

U.S. crude futures were up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $57.65 a barrel. For November, U.S. crude added 5.5 percent.

Brent crude futures added 37 cents or 0.6 percent to $63.00 a barrel. Brent rose for a third consecutive month in November, gaining about 3.6 percent.

Gold prices edged higher after marking a 3-1/2 week low in the previous session. Spot gold was up 0.1 percent at $1,275.36 an ounce