January 27, 2021

coronavirus stimulus, currencies and oil

Asia Pacific markets were mixed in early trade on Friday as investors remained cautious after U.S. lawmakers seemed unable to move forward with a coronavirus stimulus bill. 

Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.24% immediately after market open, with the heavily-weighted financials subindex up 0.75%. Shares of major banks in the country mostly rose, with the National Australia Bank up 1.78%. 

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 added 0.23% but the Topix index was fractionally lower. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.22%. 

The session in Asia followed a mixed finish on Wall Street overnight where the S&P 500 failed once again to reach its record high from February. That was despite positive U.S. jobless claim data that came in well below what economists predicted, implying that the U.S. labor market was starting to improve. 

Lawmakers in the United States appear to be at an impasse over the next round of coronavirus aid and an agreement on legislation and passage of a bill looks to be weeks away. 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not restart talks with Republicans on the matter until they increase their aid offer by $1 trillion. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow also told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that the administration and Democrats were at a “stalemate.”

The U.S. dollar traded lower against a basket of its peers as the dollar index fell 0.07% to 93.269. The Japanese yen changed hands at 106.96 against the dollar and the Australian dollar traded near flat at $0.7146. 

⁠— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report. 

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