It’s been a strange day in Washington, as top intelligence officials and even US President Donald Trump appeared to question his own statements on the firing of FBI director James Comey.

Andrew McCabe, the FBI acting director, contradicted Mr Trump over the firing of Mr Comey, denying in testimony to the Senate intelligence committee that the ousted chief had lost the support of employees as he insisted the FBI’s Russia probe would not be knocked off course.

The atmosphere in Washington grew more feverish when the committee’s two top lawmakers broke off from the hearing for a previously unannounced meeting with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney-general.

The deputy attorney general’s Thursday visit to Capitol Hill followed reports that he had come close to resigning after White House officials implied that the president fired Mr Comey on Mr Rosenstein’s recommendation. Mr Trump told NBC, however: “I was going to fire regardless of [his] recommendation.”

On Wall Street the S&P 500 dipped 0.2 per cent, but Brent crude oil prices extended a rally above $50 a barrel. In London the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged, although a more upbeat tone in its monetary statement failed to support the pound, which slipped back below $1.30.

In Asia Pacific equities, futures tip the S&P/ASX 200 index to dip 0.2 per cent when trading begins in Sydney, while Tokyo’s Topix is expected to drop 0.4 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is set to drop 0.5 per cent at the open.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Hitachi, Yamaha Motor, Mitsui Fudosan, Suzuki Motor, SMC Corp, AAC Technologies, Yue Yuen Industrial, Nissin Food and Sega Sammy.

The economic calendar for Friday is working for the weekend (all times Hong Kong):

  • 13.00: Singapore retail sales
  • 15.00: Malaysia interest rates decision
  • 15.30: Thailand foreign exchange reserves
  • 16.30: Hong Kong Q1 GDP
  • 19.30: India wholesale inflation
  • 20.00: India consumer inflation and industrial production

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