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Asian Stocks Fall With European Futures

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A global stocks selloff extended into Friday trading as crude oil held near a one-month low and investors shunned riskier assets ahead of next week’s U.S. presidential election.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was headed for its worst close in seven weeks and futures foreshadowed declines in European equities amid the S&P 500 Index’s longest losing streak since 2008. Turkey’s lira led losses among emerging-market currencies following the arrest of some opposition lawmakers, while Bloomberg’s dollar index rose for the first time in six days.

The yen and developed nations’ sovereign bonds were poised for their biggest weekly gains since July, having risen with gold on haven demand. Oil was set for its steepest weekly drop in nine months amid a glut.

Global stocks are wrapping up their worst week since the run-up to Britain’s June vote to leave the European Union, having slumped as opinion polls showed a dwindling lead for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before America votes on Tuesday. Gauges of expected volatility in equities and currencies have increased, with Clinton — seen as the more predictable contender among investors — only just ahead of Republican rival Donald Trump in two surveys released Thursday.

“It seems like it’s too close to call,” said Ashley Perrott, head of Asian fixed-income at UBS Asset Management Ltd. in Singapore. “We’re relatively cautious. One thing markets are not particularly good at pricing is political risks.”

Stocks

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 1 percent as of 7:06 a.m. London time, with more than twice as many shares dropping as advanced. The Topix index sank 1.6 percent as trading resumed in Japan following a holiday on Thursday.

Takata Corp. dropped to its lowest since May in Tokyo on renewed concern the Japanese air-bag supplier may file for bankruptcy protection for its U.S. unit. Mazda Motor Corp. tumbled by the most since July after the company cut its full-year profit forecast by 13 percent. Trading in China International Capital Corp. was halted in Hong Kong after the investment bank said it was set to announce a “very substantial acquisition.”

Futures on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index declined 0.2 percent as investors digested earnings from BMW AG and Commerzbank AG before the release of services output data for the euro area. Contracts on the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.4 percent.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.1 percent ahead of monthly American payrolls data due Friday that may influence the outlook for interest rates. U.S. shares fell in the last session as a New York Times/CBS poll found Clinton ahead 45 percent to Trump’s 42 percent among likely voters, down from a nine-point lead in the same poll in mid-October. A Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll also showed her to have lost ground to Trump since last week.

“We are still in a very cautious mood ahead of the U.S. election,” said Alex Wong, who helps oversee about $100 million at Ample Capital Ltd. in Hong Kong. “People are reducing their exposure because they are afraid of a Trump win. That is a possibility but not a huge possibility.”

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index pared this week’s loss to 0.8 percent. It fell over the last five trading sessions as election concerns outweighed a pickup in speculation that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month. The central bank left policy unchanged at a review this week and signaled that a December rate hike was likely. The yen, euro and Swiss franc all strengthened more than 1 percent this week.

“The dollar is showing clear signs that investors are worried about a Trump win,” said Sean Callow, a senior strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Sydney. “The slide in the dollar against ultra-low-yielding currencies such as euro, yen and Swiss franc is evidence of a flight to safety, reversing a period of optimism where the dollar enjoyed the combination of stronger polling results for Clinton and not entirely coincidental positioning for a Fed hike in December.”

The lira slid as much as 0.9 percent to a fresh record after Turkish police rounded up Kurdish lawmakers in post-midnight raids, extending a crackdown on the opposition as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan consolidates power following a July 15 coup attempt.

The pound was on track for a 2.3 percent weekly bounce, its best performance in eight months, following a hawkish shift by the Bank of England and a court ruling requiring the government to get lawmakers’ approval for Brexit to begin.

New Zealand’s dollar was the best performer in the Asia-Pacific region this week, gaining 2.1 percent after strong jobs data spurred speculation the central bank will be done cutting interest rates once an expected reduction at next week’s policy review is out of the way.

Commodities

Gold declined 0.4 percent, trimming this week’s advance to 1.7 percent. It touched $1,308.02 an ounce on Wednesday, the highest level in about a month.

“If Donald Trump is elected next week, we think gold can go anywhere shy of $1,400,” Wayne Gordon, executive director for commodities and foreign exchange at UBS Group AG’s wealth-management unit, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “If Hillary Clinton is elected, we think gold can probably fall by $20, $30. So the clear skew in this trade is to the upside.”

Crude oil was little changed at $44.68 a barrel in New York. It has plunged 8.3 percent this week as the U.S. reported a record jump in its stockpiles. In addition, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries who are claiming exemption from an agreement to limit supplies helped boost the group’s output to an all-time high last month.

Zinc retreated from a five-year high in London, while copper fell from its highest level since July. The LMEX Metals Index, which tracks six major base metals, rose to the most in more than 15 months on Thursday as investors bet that a rebound in demand from China, surging coal prices and logistics issues will underpin prices.

Bonds

Sovereign bonds in developed countries handed investors a 1.5 percent gain over the last four days, set for the best weekly return since July, a Bloomberg index shows. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries fell five basis points this week to 1.80 percent, while the rate on similar-maturity debt in Japan declined 1 1/2 basis points to minus 0.065 percent.

The odds of a Fed rate increase by year-end rose to 78 percent on Thursday, the highest level since March, from 69 percent at the end of last week, futures contracts indicate. The U.S. employment report is forecast to show employers added 173,000 workers in October, versus 156,000 in September, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

“It will authorize the rate hike in December,” said Hiroki Shimazu, an economist and strategist at the Japanese unit of MCP Asset Management in Tokyo. “The U.S. economy continues to recover.”

Source: Bloomberg