Asian markets were off to a mixed start on Thursday as hopes of US fiscal stimulus before the presidential election faded and a record number of new coronavirus infections in parts of Europe propelled investors toward safe-havens such as gold.
Downbeat comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that a stimulus deal was unlikely be made before the Nov. 3 vote weighed on fragile investor sentiment.
With COVID-19 cases surging, some European nations are closing schools as authorities braced for a repeat of the nightmare scenario seen earlier this year.
In a mixed Asian open, Australian equities bucked Wall Street declines, opening slightly higher because of “good support” for material and mining stocks, said Michael McCarthy, CMC Markets chief market strategist.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.1%.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures were down 0.49%.
E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were flat.