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Japan stocks set to trade higher as U.S. election uncertainty remains; Fed keeps rates near zero

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Japan were set to trade higher at the Friday open as investors continue to wait for a result from the U.S. election.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 24,225 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 24,200. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 24,105.28.

Stocks in Australia rose in early trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.94%.

Investor focus for Friday will likely remain on the U.S. election with the spotlight on a few battleground states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania. Based on NBC News’ tally, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has racked up 253 electoral votes, leaving him 17 shy of the 270 needed to win the White House.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 542.52 points higher at 28,390.18. The S&P 500 rose 1.95% to end its trading day at 3,150.45 while the Nasdaq Composite surged 2.6% to close at 11,890.93. Thursday also marked the first time since 1982 that the Dow and S&P 500 rose at least 1% in four straight sessions.

Central bank watch

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to release its monetary policy statement at around 8:30 a.m. HK/SIN on Friday.

Ahead of that release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7264, having risen from levels below $0.711 earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve said Wednesday stateside that it kept interest rates unchanged near zero, noting in its post-meeting statement that economic activity remains “well below” levels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.633 after an earlier drop from levels above 93.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.67 per dollar, having strengthened from levels above 104.4 against the greenback this week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Australia: Reserve Bank of Australia releases statement on monetary policy at 8:30 a.m .HK/SIN

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