Asia shares subdued, May's Brexit options eyed after crushing vote defeat
Asian shares took a breather on Wednesday after rallying the previous day on Chinese stimulus hopes, with investors assessing Brexit options after British lawmakers trounced Prime Minister Theresa May's deal to pull out Britain from the European Union.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was off a touch, having swung up on Tuesday after Chinese officials came out in force to signal more measures to stabilise a slowing economy.
The China hopes also helped boost Wall Street overnight, though the early session in Asia saw investors tread cautiously.
Australian shares <.AXJO> tacked on 0.1 percent while Japan's Nikkei <.N225> lost 0.7 percent.
May's crushing loss marks the collapse of her two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce with close ties to the EU after the March 29 exit.
Investors' focus is now on a confidence vote on May's government by lawmakers later on Wednesday.
Sterling was last trading at $1.2848 on the dollar, off about 0.1 percent. It had rallied more than a cent from the day's lows against the dollar with the sizable defeat for May seen forcing Britain to pursue different options.
"Theresa May was clearly prepared to take that loss on her deal. She seems to have a plan in place for what she's going to do," said Nick Twidale, Sydney-based analyst at Rakuten Securities Australia.
Twidale said he expected more volatility across the UK market and in sterling over the coming sessions. "The stumbling block is Europe saying it's not going to renegotiate on that deal. I'm not so sure that they won't."
May's defeat also fuelled volatility in UK-focused exchange-traded funds. A Tokyo-traded FTSE 100 ETF <1389.T> was down about one percent on Wednesday.
In Tuesday's session on Wall Street, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 1.1 percent as technology and internet stocks gained on Netflix Inc's plans to raise fees for U.S. subscribers.
The S&P 500 communication services index <.SPLRCL>, which includes Netflix and Alphabet Inc , jumped 1.7 percent, while the technology sector <.SPLRCT> tacked on 1.5 percent.
The China stimulus hints and dovish remarks by one of the U.S. central bank's most hawkish policymakers also helped lift the U.S. market.
Ester George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting committee this year, made the case for patience and caution on interest rate hikes to avoid choking off growth.
Twidale said the cautious policy stance of a growing number of Fed officials is pushing out expectations of a U.S. rate hike to June or possibly even further out to September.
Elsewhere in the currency market, the euro changed hands at $1.1405, holding steady after giving up nearly half a percent during the previous session.
Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was down nearly 0.3 percent at 108.41 yen .
U.S. Treasuries steadied after a choppy overnight session. The yield on benchmark 10-year notes last stood at 2.709, a tad lower from 2.718 percent at the U.S. close on Tuesday.
In commodities, oil prices rose about 3 percent overnight supported by China's promise of more stimulus. Worries over slowing China demand have been one of the key factors in the recent slide in oil.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were last trading 30 cents, or 0.6 percent, lower at $51.81 a barrel. Brent futures were also off 30 cents, down about half a percent, at $60.34 a barrel.
Spot gold was 0.1 percent higher at $1,291.30, not far off a seven-month peak of $1,298.60 scaled on Jan. 4.