Stocks are up and oil is down as chatter about the Fed moving as early as March intensifies.

Granted, interest rate futures are only pricing in a 31 per cent chance of a March rate rise, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool – but then, said odds are slightly better than those given for a Donald Trump victory at FiveThirtyEight ahead of the election.

Speaking of the US commander-in-chief: Donald Trump has rekindled a public war with the US intelligence community, accusing it of mounting a “criminal” campaign to undermine his administration by leaking information about its ties to Russia.

After Wednesday’s rally – which saw major Asia Pacific stock markets gain around 1 per cent or more as financials got a boost from interest rate expectations – equities in the region look set to lose some of that steam at the outset on Thursday. Futures tip Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index to open down 0.1 per cent, while both Tokyo’s Topix and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index are expected to open flat.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Telstra, DBS Group, Lenovo and MGM China.

The economic calendar is taking it easy on Thursday after what already feels like a long week (all times Hong Kong):

  • 08.30: Australia unemployment rate
  • 12.00: Malaysia Q4 GDP
  • 14.00: Japan machine tool orders (final)
  • Bank Indonesia’s interest rates decision is also due out today, along with data on the country’s imports, exports and trade balance.

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