(Bloomberg) -- Asian stocks looked set for a muted start after three days of gains. U.S. equities earlier climbed amid encouraging news on the vaccine front and speculation lawmakers are making progress on an economic aid package, while the dollar fell.

Futures in Japan and Hong Kong were flat, while those in Australia edged higher. The S&P 500 Index rose to within 2% of its record closing high. Novavax Inc. jumped on positive early data from its experimental vaccine for Covid-19. Ten-year Treasury yields climbed. Oil rose after a government report showed a decline in U.S. stockpiles, while gold continued its ascent above a record $2,000 an ounce.

Investors have been pushing stocks higher in recent days as pressure grows on Republicans and Democrats to resolve differences over a new U.S. virus relief package, especially with jobs data Wednesday painting a grim picture. Gains in precious metals suggest traders are nervous about the outlook for the global economy and seeking a hedge.

“Stock markets in general have been underpinned by expectations for further stimulus out of the U.S.,” said Candice Bangsund, portfolio manager of global asset allocation at Fiera Capital Corp. “The second-quarter earnings season has also lent some notable support and helped to counteract some of the fears about the latest resurgence in Covid cases.”

U.S. economic data was mixed, with payroll gains slowing sharply in July, suggesting the pickup in coronavirus cases is putting the brakes on the job market. Meanwhile, service industries expanded in July at the fastest pace since February 2019.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced. Crude futures closed at the highest in five months, but eased off session highs following Energy Information Administration data that showed gasoline and distillate stockpiles increased by a combined 2 million barrels as the summer driving season nears its end.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • Reserve Bank of India and Bank of England rate decisions are due Thursday.
  • Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan discusses the U.S. economy at Thursday event.
  • July U.S. jobs reports expected Friday.

These are some of the main moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 Index advanced 0.6%.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 slid 0.1%.
  • Hang Seng Index futures earlier ended little changed.
  • Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4%.


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index declined 0.5%.
  • The yen was at 105.59 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan traded at 6.9437 per dollar.
  • The euro bought $1.1864.


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose four basis points to 0.55%.


  • West Texas Intermediate crude added 1.2% to $42.20 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $2,038.13 an ounce.

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