Stock Index Futures Drop From U.S. to Japan as Gold, Yen Climb

HONG KONG  (Aug 15)  Stock-index futures from the U.S. to Australia and Japan fell, signaling Asian equities may pare back recent gains amid a mixed picture for corporate earnings and concern the Federal Reserve will cut stimulus next month. Precious metals rose and the yen gained versus the dollar.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average were bid at 13,820 in the Osaka pre-market, after closing at 13,875 in Chicago and 14,010 in Japan yesterday. Contracts on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures fell 0.2 percent, after the U.S. benchmark lost 0.5 percent. Gold climbed 0.6 percent, and silver and platinum advanced. The yen added 0.3 percent to 97.82 per dollar, after closing little changed yesterday, and the kiwi dollar strengthened.

While the MSCI Asia Pacific Index capped the longest run of gains in six weeks yesterday, less than 50 percent of members that have reported earnings this season posted profits that exceeded analysts’ estimates, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The Nikkei’s 35 percent advance this year makes it the best performing major developed market. Data today may show ongoing U.S. jobless claims fell in the week to Aug. 3, fueling speculation that has 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicting a paring in Fed bond purchases next month.

“The market’s had a good run over the last few weeks so we’re likely to see a bit of selling pressure today, we’ve had a few results that missed expectations and the reporting season has been pretty mixed,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Investments, which manages about $25 billion, said by phone. “The jobless claims will be watched as that’s regarded as a very good leading indicator for the U.S.”

Hong Kong

Indonesia will keep key rates at a 21-month high, while Singaporean retail sales growth slowed in June, according to Bloomberg surveys before data today. Indian markets are closed for a holiday and Hong Kong trading resumes after yesterday’s shutdown because of a typhoon.

The Nikkei has climbed almost 4 percent over the past two days and the S&P/ASX 200 gauge, up 11 percent this year, closed little changed yesterday after rising the previous two days.

The yen also gained versus the euro, adding 0.3 percent to 129.69 per euro, after adding 0.1 percent yesterday. The Bloomberg Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against 10 major peers, was little changed, after retreating 0.1 percent yesterday in the first decline this week.

Australia’s dollar strengthened 0.1 percent to 91.34 U.S. cents before a report on consumers’ inflation expectations for August. New Zealand’s currency jumped 0.3 percent to 80.51 cents, headed for the strongest close since July 26, after data showed manufacturing in the South Pacific nation expanded at the fastest pace since 2004.

U.S. Moves

Trading volumes on the S&P 500 were about 22 percent below the 100-day average yesterday as the gauge retreated for the sixth time in eight sessions.

Macy’s Inc. slumped 4.5 percent for its biggest decline of the year after cutting its earnings forecast and retailers in the S&P 500 lost 1.5 percent as group for the worst drop among 24 industries. Macy’s also posted second-quarter profit that trailed analysts’ estimates amid an unexpected sales decline after Chief Executive Officer Terry Lundgren used promotions to clear inventory.

Cree Inc., the North Carolina-based maker of energy- efficient lighting products, sank 22 percent as its earnings forecast missed analysts’ estimates. Boeing Co., Home Depot Inc. and Johnson & Johnson slid at least 2 percent for the biggest losses in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which sank 113 points.

Tapering Outlook

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits rose to 3 million in the week ended Aug. 3, from 3.02 million in the previous week, according to the median of 11 economists’ estimates before today’s Labor Department report. Initial jobless claims rose to 335,000 in the week to Aug. 10, from 333,000 a week earlier, a separate poll shows.

“The market is scope-locked on Fed tapering in September,” Douglas Cote, chief market strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management in New York, said by phone yesterday. His firm oversees $190 billion. “Quantitative easing is creating some excess in the financial system. The last thing Bernanke wants when he finishes his term is to be responsible for the next bubble.”