A rally in Asian stocks petered out on Friday, and the yen climbed, as investors considered the implications of continuing personnel turmoil in the Trump administration.
Japan’s currency, often the go-to asset in times of uncertainty, rose after the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump plans to remove his national security adviser, something White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later denied was happening. Stocks were already lower in the region before the reports, with a lackluster session in the U.S. overnight offering little fresh direction ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting. Ten-year Treasury yields ticked lower and are heading for a weekly drop after a softer tone in U.S. economic data.
Any removal of H.R. McMaster as the national security adviser would follow the resignation of the White House’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and the ouster of the secretary of state. Investors were earlier weighing the prospects for heightened U.S. trade protectionism after new White House appointee Larry Kudlow said he’d sell gold and buy the greenback, which gained on Thursday.
"Those developments are negative for dollar-yen and the Nikkei," Tohru Sasaki, head of Japan markets research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo, said of the news on the departure of top U.S. policy makers. At the same time, "the market is getting used to political problems," both in the U.S. and Japan, he said on Bloomberg Television — so moves may be short-lived.
A political scandal in Japan, with the potential resignation of the country’s finance minister, remains a focus for traders. Weekend poll results on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval rating may prove key. Also upcoming is a Monday vote in China’s legislature on the next central bank chief in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Elsewhere, West Texas crude steadied above $61 a barrel as signs of stronger U.S. fuel consumption balanced OPEC’s forecasting for the first time that new supplies from its rivals will exceed demand growth this year.
Here are some of the key things happening as the week ends:
Revised Japanese industrial production data are out on Friday.
EU27 government officials discuss the European Union’s Brexit position.
And these are the main moves in markets:
Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.4 percent at close in Tokyo.
The Shanghai Composite lost 0.3 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.2 percent.
South Korea’s Kospi pared losses to 0.1 percent.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index were down 0.1 percent after the underlying gauge on Thursday fell 0.1 percent, bringing this week’s loss to 1.4 percent.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after advancing 0.5 percent on Thursday for its biggest rise in over two weeks.
The euro was flat at $1.2302.
The yen gained 0.4 percent to 105.88 per dollar.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries slid about one basis point to 2.82 percent.
Australia’s 10-year yield dropped three basis points to 2.68 percent.
West Texas Intermediate crude gained rose to $61.18 in a third day of gains.
Gold was steady at $1,316.62 an ounce after falling 0.7 percent on Thursday.