Japan’s yen strengthened and gold advanced as investors adopted a cautious approach before Vienna meetings of OPEC and the European Central Bank. Crude oil hovered around $49 a barrel and the euro rose to a one-week high.
The yen gained ground against all of its G-10 peers and a sale of 10-year sovereign debt in Japan drew the strongest demand in almost two years. Similar-maturity Treasuries advanced for a third day. Crude held near a one-week low before the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meet to discuss production policy amid rising U.S. inventories. European equities fluctuated ahead of an ECB policy review. Japanese stocks tumbled after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held back a widely expected fiscal stimulus package.
Global markets have entered June on a circumspect footing with the OPEC and ECB meetings Thursday setting the stage for a month that will also see the U.K. vote on whether to remain in the European Union and a possible interest-rate increase by the Federal Reserve. Wednesday data showed the U.S. manufacturing sector grew more than forecast last month and American employment figures this week will help shape expectations for the timing of the next rate hike. Fed Funds futures indicate a 22 percent chance of a move at the June 14-15 meeting.
“The economic situation in America may be solid, but there are still fears that the rest of the world won’t be able to withstand higher U.S. interest rates,” said Mitsushige Akino, a Tokyo-based executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. “If the OPEC meeting results in a negative outcome, we’ll see even more risk being taken off the table.”
The ECB’s rate announcement is due at 1:45 p.m. in Vienna and President Mario Draghi is expected to refrain from adding to record monetary stimulus. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will be answering questions about the nation’s relationship with the EU as he seeks to convince voters to support continued membership before a June 23 referendum. A U.S. jobs report from the ADP Research Institute is forecast to show 173,000 workers were taken on in May, up from 156,000 the previous month. Official employment figures are due Friday.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was 0.1 percent lower as of 8:23 a.m. London time, set for a third daily decline. Futures on the S&P 500 Index fell 0.1 percent.
Japan’s Topix index lost 2.2 percent. It slid 1.3 percent on Wednesday as Abe announced a planned sales-tax hike will be postponed until October 2019 and vowed to take “bold” economic steps in the autumn, without giving further information. Expectations that fiscal stimulus was imminent were fueled by local newspaper reports, including a Yomiuri Shimbun article that said the premier would unveil a “large” extra budget on Wednesday.
Honda Motor Co. tumbled 4.2 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. dropped 1.5 percent after their U.S. sales fell last month by more than analysts estimated. Yahoo Japan Corp. rallied 3 percent after the Nikkei newspaper reported SoftBank Group Corp. may boost its ownership of the search engine operator. Midea Group Co. fell 1.5 percent in Shenzhen as Germany explored ways to stop a takeover of robot maker Kuka AG by the Chinese company.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped to a one-month low, while benchmarks in Hong Kong and Shanghai rallied as much as 0.5 percent.
The yen strengthened 0.5 percent to 109.03 per dollar, after surging 1.4 percent in the last two trading sessions.
“This move in the yen is maybe more about a risk-off move, than sort of a positive sentiment,” Sassan Ghahramani, chief executive officer of SGH Macro Advisors, said on Bloomberg TV. “People got a little bit ahead of themselves and were expecting some sort of announcement on a supplementary budget. When that didn’t come, I think there was a bit of a disappointment trade.”
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent, after sliding 0.4 percent in the last session. Investors are paying close attention to U.S. data after Fed officials indicated a potential interest-rate hike as soon as this summer was contingent on continued improvement in the economy. Friday’s payrolls data is projected to show the number of workers increased by 160,000 in May, matching the advance in April.
The euro strengthened 0.2 percent, after surging 0.5 percent on Wednesday, and the British pound rose 0.1 percent from near a two-week low before Cameron answers questions on the EU in a Sky News television program on Thursday. The U.K. currency sank 1.5 percent over the last two days as polls indicated support is growing for the country to leave the bloc.
Australia’s dollar fell 0.4 percent versus the greenback, retreating from near a two-week high. The ringgit dropped to a three-month low as lower oil prices dimmed prospects for Malaysia, Asia’s only major net exporter of crude. South Korea’s won strengthened 0.6 percent as overseas investors poured about $200 million into the nation’s equities for the second day in a row, the biggest net inflows since mid-April.
West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.2 percent at $49.13 a barrel, halting a four-day slide. Saudi Arabia was discussing ideas with fellow OPEC members including restoring a production target scrapped in December, according to delegates familiar with the situation. Still, no formal proposal has yet been made and Iran’s minister said a new output ceiling wasn’t an attractive plan.
Gold rose 0.3 percent, after falling on 10 of the last 11 trading days. Copper and nickel fell by as much as 0.7 percent in London, while aluminum and zinc advanced.
U.S. Treasuries due in a decade rose for a third day, pushing their yield one basis point lower to 1.83 percent. Similar-maturity notes in Japan yielded minus 0.115 percent after a sale of the tenor achieved the highest bid-to-cover ratio since August 2014.