Asian stocks tread water on U.S., commodities concerns



Asian stocks are set for a third straight day of losses on Friday as a retreat in crude oil and other commodities prices knocked global sentiment, although receding concerns about France's presidential election kept the euro near six-month highs.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS opened flat on Friday. Japan .N225 and South Korea .KS11 markets are closed for trading.

Commodity prices across the board tumbled, led by oil CLc1, which fell by 5 percent in overnight trading on concerns of a supply glut with analysts forecasting further losses.

"The rout in markets is unlikely to turn around quickly," ANZ strategists wrote in a daily note. 

"Oil markets face further potentially bearish data, with the U.S. rig count likely to add to the bearishness."

Oil prices plunged to five-month lows on Thursday amid record trading volume in Brent crude, as OPEC and other producers appeared to rule out deeper supply cuts to reduce the world's persistent glut of crude.

Copper prices CMCU3 slid to four-month lows, following their biggest one-day drop in 20 months while Chinese iron ore futures DCIOcv1 tumbled 8 percent on Thursday on concerns that global commodity demand are set to fall sharply.

The weakness in commodities washed over to stocks, countering some fairly solid earnings reports and some cautious optimism about U.S. President Donald Trump's reform plans after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a healthcare overhaul.

Traders also remained cautious ahead of Friday's U.S. government payrolls report, following March's underwhelming 98,000 figure. 

Economists on average expect 185,000 jobs were created in April. ECONUS

Futures traders are pricing in a 79 percent chance of a June rate hike, up from 68 percent a week earlier, according to the CME Group's FedWatch Tool.


That hurt U.S. Treasury notes with yields on benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR yielding 2.36 percent, their highest since April 10, and up from 2.31 percent late on Wednesday.

The euro settled at a six-month high EUR=EBS against the U.S. dollar after centrist Emmanuel Macron consolidated his position to win France's presidential race against anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen.

Beyond Sunday's vote, traders will be looking to the European Central Bank for clues on its plans to reduce its bond-buying program.

Prospects of higher U.S. interest rates dampened demand for gold with the safe-haven asset XAU= changing hands at $1,228 per ounce.

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