Australian stocks slip following US holiday
Stocks in Australia and futures in Japan and Hong Kong dropped on Friday morning, with Asia Pacific markets getting off to a weak start to the day following a quiet Thanksgiving holiday in the US.
Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell as much as 0.4 per cent in early trading, while futures for Japan’s Topix and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.1 and 0.3 per cent respectively.
Markets in the US were closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and will run a shortened session on Friday. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 gauge closed up 0.4 per cent as traders weighed up the likelihood of monetary tightening following strong US economic data released during the previous session and the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting.
Data released on Wednesday showed that US weekly jobless claims had reached their lowest point since 1969 and that a measure of inflation followed closely by the Fed had posted its biggest year-on-year jump in October since the 1990s.
The Australian dollar slipped overnight.
UK and France clash over response to Channel migrant tragedy
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron were on Thursday struggling to co-ordinate a coherent response to the deaths of 27 migrants who had drowned trying to cross the English Channel from France the previous day.
The UK and French governments, hampered by deteriorating relations since Brexit, blamed criminal networks of people-traffickers for the tragedy and vowed to crack down on the gangs as would-be asylum seekers risked their lives in small boats.
“We need stronger European co-operation on this, given that France is a transit country,” the French president said during a visit to Croatia.
On Thursday, a further 62 migrants reached the UK in small boats, while France stopped another 30.
Tensions continued between the UK and France yesterday with Priti Patel, the British home secretary, saying the onus was on the French government to stop people crossing the Channel. “I’ve offered to work with France to put officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats,” she told the House of commons.
Read more about Johnson and Macron.
Southern African countries put on UK travel red list over Covid variant
The UK will place six southern African countries back on its red list of travel restrictions, after an apparent surge in cases of a heavily mutated coronavirus variant caused alarm among global health officials.
Travellers returning from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini will be forced to quarantine for 10 days at a government facility from midday on Friday, government officials said.
Direct flights from the six countries will be banned from midday on Friday until hotel quarantine is up and running from 4am on Sunday.
The rule change follows mounting concern by scientists over the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant’s ability to evade the vaccines and transmit faster than the Delta variant. The strain, first identified in Botswana, is believed to be behind a resurgence in Covid cases in South Africa over the past week.
Read more about the new variant.
What to watch in Asia today
Chinese tech earnings: Food delivery company Meituan and short video platform Pinduoduo report earnings today. Meituan had to swallow a Rmb3.4bn ($530m) fine after being found guilty of monopolistic practices in October. Despite the huge fine, some analysts say the company got off lightly.
Markets: US stock markets were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving. Australian stocks fell in early trading, while futures in Japan were flat.
Data: Markets could be affected by Australia’s October retail sales figures and Tokyo’s inflation figures, both reported today. Retail sales rose for the first time since May in September, and are forecast to have accelerated in October. ANZ also reports consumer confidence figures for New Zealand today.