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James Hyerczyk

Asia’s major stock indexes were lower in the afternoon trade on Thursday, following the lead set by the steep decline in U.S. tech stocks on Wednesday.

In the U.S., shares of Twitter and Facebook were the biggest drags on the NASDAQ Composite and S&P 500 Index. They fell as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg both testified in front of Congress, addressing issues surrounding online election meddling and abuse on social platforms.

At 0449 GMT, Japan’s NIKKEI was trading 22524.53, down 56.30 or -0.25%. Australia’s ASX 200 Index was trading 6160.80, down 69.60 or -1.12%. China’s Shanghai was at 2708.85, up 4.51 or +0.17%.

Australian Dollar

The Australian Dollar is trading lower early Thursday after hitting its lowest level since May 24, 2016 the previous session. The Aussie has been pressured lately by the recent turmoil in the emerging markets and the uncertain economic outlook for China, Australia’s key trading partner.

At 0455 GMT, the AUD/USD is trading .7178, down 0.0015 or -0.21%.

Australia’s trade surplus narrowed to $1.6 billion as exports dipped and imports rose. In seasonally adjusted terms, the surplus in July fell to $1.55 billion from $1.9 billion in June.

The value of exports dropped by 1 percent, or $362 million, from June’s record $36.4 billion effort. At the same time, higher fuel costs nudged up imports by 1 percent to $34.6 billion.


U.S. Treasury Markets

U.S. government debt yields held steady Wednesday ahead of a slew of economic data on Thursday and Friday, and speeches by Federal Reserve officials.

The yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note finished at 2.90 percent, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond settled at 3.074 percent.

Early in the session, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Wednesday that the central bank ought to pause further interest rate increases because its stance is already neutral or restrictive. FOMC Member Bostic delivered a hawkish speech, while FOMC Member Kashkari sounded dovish in his speech.

U.S. Economic News

New data out Wednesday showed the U.S. trade deficit in July widened at its fastest rate since 2015 as monthly deficits with China and the European Union both hit new records. According to the data, in 2018, the U.S.’s overall goods and services deficit is up by $22 billion, or 7 percent, versus the same period last year.

According to the Commerce Department, in July, the U.S. trade deficit soared by 9.5 percent to $50.1 billion, putting America on pace for tis largest annual gap in a decade. The U.S. trade deficit with China swelled to a record $36.8 billion.

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