Asian stocks slip as risk-off sentiment grips markets


Director James Comey is slated to testify Thursday in a hearing on Capitol Hill, the first time since he was suddenly fired by US President Donald Trump, Xinhua reported. The European Central Bank's policy meeting is also in focus and all event could affect investor sentiment.

"The dollar is already on the defensive after Friday's jobs data, and now it's facing potential geopolitical risk in the form of Comey's testimony", said Bart Wakabayashi, Tokyo Branch Manager of State Street Bank.

The ECB will also hold its policy meeting on Thursday and is expected to reiterate its plan to extend the money-printing scheme at least until the end of the year.

"Tomorrow's what is being dubbed as "Triple Threat Thursday".an event-filled day that could send global markets on a bumpy ride", said ING currency strategist Viraj Patel, in London. "Once these events pass, we may have a little more clarity and therefore see a little less caution in the markets".

Britain's FTSE 100 index slipped 0.05 per cent, Germany's DAX rose 0.28 per cent, and France's CAC gained 0.89 per cent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan crept up 0.1 percent, with Hong Kong and mainland China stocks leading the region higher. The pair has made session high at 1.1263 and hit lows at 1.1233 levels.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was recently down 1%, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was off 0.6%.

The greenback has been firmly on the defensive since Friday's weaker-than-expected U.S. non-farm payrolls report prompted investors to pare back expectations of future interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent at $1,292.55 an ounce.

-The yen rose 1 percent to 109.409 per dollar, the strongest level since April 21 on a closing basis.

The euro was little changed at $1.1267 after climbing about 0.2 percent overnight.

Given how Gold, US yields, and the Yen have moved in lockstep in recent months, it seems highly likely that any further Gold strength or weaker US yields or a stronger Japanese Yen will come in tow with the other two instruments following - look for further movement in unison from all three. Prices of oil, one of Canada's major exports, reversed gains to trade down on concerns that top crude exporter Saudi Arabia and other Arab states' cutting of ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting extremism and undermining regional stability.

Brent crude prices were at $49.79 per barrel, down 33 cents.

The WSJ Dollar Index, a measure of the dollar against 16 other currencies, was down 0.2% at 88.16, at levels close to those on November 8, before Mr. Trump's victory sent the dollar soaring. The Canadian dollar last trading at C$1.3474 to the greenback. The loonie strengthened on Tuesday to a almost one-week high against its USA counterpart as oil prices rose, but the range was narrow ahead of key events later in the week.

US crude rose 1.35 percent to $48.04 per barrel and Brent was last at $49.94, up 0.95 percent on the day.

With U.K. elections, an European Central Bank policy meeting where policymakers may take a less dovish stance, and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey's Senate testimony on all set for Thursday, market participants will be wary of taking big positions.