GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares set for sluggish start after Wall Street retreats from record highs

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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares set for sluggish start after Wall Street retreats from record highs

Asia equities are set for a sluggish open on Wednesday after Wall Street pulled back from record highs reached in previous sessions, as investors eye the upcoming earnings season for more signs of a recovery following a series of strong U.S. economic data.

The three major Wall Street indexes closed lower on Tuesday, a day after the S&P 500 and the Dow rose to record levels driven by optimism from a greater-than-expected jobs report last Friday and data showing a dramatic rebound in the U.S. services industry on Monday. Investors also weighed the latest U.S. job openings report, which showed on Tuesday that vacancies rose to a two-year high in February while hiring had its biggest gain in nine months amid increased COVID-19 vaccinations and additional government stimulus.

“We’ve had a few big up days in a row and I think markets are looking to a take a little bit of a pause here,” said Charlie Ripley, vice president of portfolio management at Allianz Investment Management in Minnesota. “From an economic data perspective, we didn’t get too much information except for the jobs opening report and market pricing is reflecting that.” Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures fell 0.1%, while Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures rose 0.04%.

The International Monetary Fund raised its global growth forecast to 6% this year from 5.5%, reflecting a rapidly brightening outlook for the U.S. economy. With upcoming earnings season expected to show S&P profit growth of 24.2% from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv data, investors will be watching to see whether corporate results further confirm recent positive economic data.

“We’re heading into earnings season and we’ll get a better look of how companies performed in the first quarter even as we exit the pandemic,” Ripley said. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.29% to 33,430.24, the S&P 500 lost 0.10% to 4,073.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.05% to 13,698.38.

U.S. Treasury yields dipped, with 5-year notes leading the decline, on investor views that market pricing based on an earlier-than-expected tightening by the Fed was too aggressive. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 18/32 in price to yield 1.6578%, from 1.72% late on Monday.

The dollar slipped to a two-week low against a basket of world currencies, with traders taking advantage of its strong March performance as dropping Treasury yields pressured the greenback. The dollar index fell 0.259%, with the euro down 0.05% to $1.1869. The Korean won strengthened 0.08% versus the greenback at 1,118.21 per dollar.

Crude oil prices partially rebounded from the previous session’s losses, lifted by strong data from the United States and China. U.S. crude gained 1.16% to settle at $59.33 per barrel, and Brent settled at $62.74 per barrel, up 0.95% on the day.

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