Asia markets: Brexit, coronavirus, currencies, oil

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Japan were set for a positive start on Thursday, with multiple markets in Asia-Pacific poised to close early for Christmas Eve.Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 26,685 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 26,640. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 26,524.79.Meanwhile, shares in Australia climbed in early trading, with the S&P/ASX 200 up around 0.8%.Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore are set to close early on Thursday for Christmas Eve.Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose less than 0.1% to close at 3,690.01 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended its trading day 114.32 points higher at 30,129.83. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.3% lower at 12,771.11.The moves stateside came after U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the new U.S. Covid-19 relief package, an act that could delay the deployment of funds to struggling Americans. On Wednesday, Trump also vetoed the sweeping defense bill that authorizes a topline of $740 billion in spending and outlines Pentagon policy.Meanwhile, in Brexit trade deal negotiations between Britain and the European Union, bond yields and the British pound jumped on Wednesday following reports that an agreement was close. Reuters reported that a trade deal was “imminent,” citing a senior EU diplomat, though CNBC could not independently verify this.The British pound was at $1.3506, having fallen to around $1.32 earlier in the trading week.CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.331 following levels above 90.8 seen earlier in the week.The Japanese yen traded at 103.57 per dollar, off levels below 103.2 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7573, off lows below $0.75 seen earlier in the trading week.

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