Asia stocks and US futures regained some poise after a late-night tweet from US President Donald Trump urging additional economic relief, hours after he abruptly walked away from negotiations on a fiscal stimulus package and sparked a Wall Street sell-off.
Japan’s Topix index fell 0.1 per cent on Wednesday afternoon, trimming earlier losses, while South Korea’s Kospi reversed to a gain of 0.3 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.6 per cent. Mainland China markets remained closed for a holiday.
Overnight on Wall Street the S&P 500 closed 1.4 per cent lower and the tech-focused Nasdaq dropped 1.6 per cent after Mr Trump said he would delay discussion of any new fiscal support measures until after the US election on November 3.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major stimulus bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and small business,” he wrote on Twitter.
But Mr Trump appeared to abruptly change tack later in a late-night tweet urging further aid for some businesses and households. “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now”, he wrote on Twitter.
Futures for the S&P 500 were flat after the president’s tweet, after falling earlier in Asia. Futures trading for US stocks can be thin during Asian hours, adding to volatility.
Mr Trump, who returned to the White House on Monday after receiving treatment for Covid-19 at a military hospital, had earlier appealed for a deal as Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, attempted to thrash out an agreement.
Mr Trump’s decision and contradictory tweet both came after Jay Powell, chair of the US Federal Reserve, warned that America’s economic recovery from coronavirus was “far from complete” and that “too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and business”.
The yield on the benchmark US 10-year Treasury rose 0.01 percentage points at 0.747 per cent in Asia trading, after dropping 0.04 percentage points overnight after the president’s announcement that he was scrapping stimulus talks.
Oil prices fell on concern that an absence of fresh stimulus could darken the economic outlook and dent demand. Brent crude, the international benchmark, dropped 1.7 per cent to $41.91 a barrel while US marker West Texas Intermediate fell 2.1 per cent to $39.81 a barrel.