Global Markets Quiet After Recent Gains

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Global stock, currency and commodity markets have remained mostly quiet following recent gains in equities and ahead of crucial government appointments in China and the U.S.

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Many asset classes and locations experienced slight moves on Monday, and that continued Tuesday in Asia. Most stock benchmarks were within 0.2% of their prior-day finishes by midday trading while foreign-exchange markets, oil markets and others also saw slight price changes.

China's Communist Party congress, which started last week, is due wrap up in the next day, with President Xi Jinping expected to consolidate his power further through a new lineup of the country's leadership.

Large, state-backed funds have been intervening in mainland Chinese markets to limit price swings ahead of and during the high-level party meeting, traders have said. Those funds may be tempted to sell some stock afterward.

"You don't need this [market] support in the early part of your five-year term," said Arthur Kwong, head of Asia-Pacific equities at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index finished morning trading up 0.1%. That index hasn't fluctuated by more than 1% either direction in two months, the longest such streak in a quarter-century for a notoriously volatile market.

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Also of huge interest to markets, U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to unveil his pick for the new leader of the Federal Reserve within the next 10 days. Mr. Trump has said he is considering appointing Chairwoman Janet Yellen for another term, but is also reviewing other candidates.

A hawkish candidate might send U.S. Treasury yields higher, boosting the dollar and possibly weighing on Asian currencies and equities.

On the Asian equities front, investors continue to keep a close eye on Japan as the Nikkei looks to extend its record-setting streak of daily gains to 16 on Tuesday. Even as the yen has rebounded some the past day, Japanese stocks overcame early weakness to trade 0.2% higher recently.

New Zealand stocks rose slightly as the NZX 50 looked like it would climb for a 15th-straight day; it was up less than 0.1% ahead of the close.

Amid this month's sustained stock gains, "market sentiment is so similar to 1997" just before the Asian financial crisis, Mr. Kwong said, with investors not showing concern about potential risk factors. "This is something that I worry about."

A number of Asian stock markets leaned slightly higher by midday. That included Hong Kong's Hang Seng, which shook off early tepidness and was recently 0.1% higher as resource and bank stocks rebounded.

Oil futures also gained, with the Brent global benchmark rising 0.2% to $57.49 a barrel by midday. But Australian oil stocks were down about 1%, capping that country's stock-benchmark gains to 0.1%. The S&P/ASX 200 on Monday ended an eight-session winning streak.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 24, 2017 00:35 ET (04:35 GMT)