Asian shares up, dollar dips as Democrat wins Alabama Senate race

Date | 13-12-2017 - 02:43 PM Article Type | Stock Markets Region | Asia

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures, Treasury yields and the dollar fell on Wednesday as Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in a bitter U.S. Senate race in Alabama, while Asian shares edged up as crude oil futures took back lost ground.

Jones' victory could mean trouble for President Donald Trump and his populist political base. It would narrow the Republicans' already slim majority in the U.S. Senate, possibly making it harder for Trump to advance his policy agenda.

The election temporarily seized the spotlight away from the Federal Reserve, which is widely expected to raise interest rates later on Wednesday and could provide clues about the timing of future U.S. policy moves.

S&P e-mini futures (ESc1) were down as much as 0.3 percent, compared to their drop 0.1 percent before the Alabama polls closed.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rival currencies, was down 0.2 percent at 93.948 (DXY) pulling away from three-week highs touched on Tuesday.

The dollar slumped 0.3 percent to 113.26 yen <jpy=>, while the euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.1758 <eur=>.</eur=></jpy=>

"Heading into tonight, this reaction could be an opportunity for people to pick up some dollars ahead of the Fed meeting," said Bart Wakabayashi, branch manager for State Street Bank in Tokyo.

"While the hike is still very much priced in, I would still be core-long ahead of the Fed," he said.

The 10-year Treasury yield (US10YT=RR) slipped to 2.394 percent from its U.S. close on Tuesday of 2.403 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (MIAPJ0000PUS) was up 0.1 percent.

Japan's Nikkei stock index (N225) was 0.5 percent lower in afternoon trade, pressured by a stronger yen and shrugging off upbeat economic data that showed Japanese core machinery orders rose a more-than-expected 5 percent in October.

On Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and the S&P 500 (SPX) both notched record closing highs, though the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) shed 0.19 percent. (N)

Bitcoin was down 1.1 percent on the Bitstamp exchange at $16,465.09 (BTC=BTSP).

The Fed will conclude its two-day policy meeting and is seen raising its benchmark rate to between 1.25 and 1.50 percent, with investors also focusing on clues to the pace of tightening next year.

Concerns that the central bank would take a slower pace of tightening due to cool inflation were partly alleviated by data on Tuesday that showed U.S. wholesale inflation rose last month. Consumer price index (CPI) data will be released later in the global session on Wednesday.

The Bank of England and the European Central Bank will also meet this week and are expected to hold rates steady.

Crude oil futures took back lost ground after facing profit-taking pressure when they surged to two-year highs in the previous session on an unplanned closure of the pipeline that carries the largest volume of North Sea crude oil. [O/R]

Brent crude (LCOc1) added 1 percent, or 61 cents, to $63.95 a barrel, after shedding 2 percent on Tuesday. U.S. crude (CLc1) added 0.7 percent, or 39 cents, to $57.53, after slipping 1.4 percent overnight.

Author: Heng V. Mony
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