Asia shares poised to open lower, gold at fresh record

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Asia shares were set to open lower on Wednesday, following a choppy trading session on Wall Street and losses in Europe.

Hong Kong futures HSIc1 edged down 0.07%. Australian shares were also poised to open lower as COVID-19 rose in the country. Nikkei futures NKc1 were trading 0.3% below the Nikkei 225 index’s .N225 previous close.

Spot gold XAU= rose in early trade and touched a fresh record of $2,025.76 per ounce. Prices have soared 33% so far this year.

Wall Street shares ended higher after choppy trade as hopes mounted U.S. leaders would agree on another coronavirus stimulus package. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI gained 0.62%, the S&P 500 .SPX rose 0.36% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.35%.

White House negotiators late Tuesday vowed to work “around the clock” to reach a spending deal by the end of the week, but the Treasury Secretary warned they were not “going anywhere close” to the $3.4 trillion Democratic leaders sought.

U.S. lawmakers missed a deadline last week to extend the $600 per week enhanced unemployment payments. The payments are key element of the Democrats’ proposal, but Senate Republicans have proposed to significantly slash the benefits.

“U.S. consumer spending was stalling in July with the extra unemployment payments.  Without the extra payments, U.S. consumer spending could fall in August,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia economists said in a note.

The stimulus expectations on Tuesday sent gold prices above the key $2,000 mark for the first time in history and lifted crude oil futures LCOc1 to their highest since March.

Bullion also got a boost as treasury bond yields fell to new lows, National Australia Bank analysts said on Wednesday. The five-year treasury yield hit a record low and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield dropped to a five-month trough, indicating dim investor outlook for the U.S. economic recovery.

In Europe, shares slid. Spirits maker Diageo Plc (DGE.L) and German drugs and pesticides group Bayer (BAYGn.DE) reported disappointing earnings.

Goldman Sachs said it expects coronavirus travel restrictions to hit FY20 results and the forward view of Qantas (QAN.AX) and Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ), both due to report results later this month.

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials will review a trade deal and likely air mutual grievances in an increasingly tense relationship during an Aug. 15 videoconference, sources said.

China’s U.S. envoy on Tuesday said Beijing does not want tensions to escalate.

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