Marketmind: Nvidia takes the stage as equity rally pauses

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – A look at the day ahead in Asian markets from Lewis Krauskopf, markets correspondent.

A rally in stocks took a breather ahead of Wednesday’s session in Asia as U.S. investors mostly shrugged off minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting.

With the path of interest rates foremost in investors’ minds, the market was keen for any clues into thinking at the U.S. central bank.

Minutes released on Tuesday showed that Fed officials agreed at their last meeting they could take a cautious approach to raising rates moving forward, and would only need to increase them if incoming information showed insufficient progress in lowering inflation.

Still, major U.S. equity indexes ended lower on the day. The S&P 500 ended down 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 0.6% as both indexes snapped five-day winning streaks.

Despite the day’s declines, stocks have soared in November, with the S&P 500 and MSCI’s all country index both up over 8% this month.

The next immediate focus was on Nvidia. Reaction to the U.S. chip heavyweight’s quarterly report, out on Tuesday after the close of U.S. markets, was potentially set to ripple through markets globally, as well as through Asia’s semiconductor industry.

Nvidia is at the heart of the fervor over artificial intelligence in markets this year. Its shares have been one of the Magnificent Seven megacap stocks whose massive gains have propelled equity indexes higher this year, with Nvidia hitting a record high this week ahead of its results.

Equities will be looking for direction after a largely tepid session on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei ended marginally lower on Tuesday but was still near three-decade highs.

In Chinese equities, the blue-chip CSI 300 Index edged up 0.1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index was largely flat, trimming early gains.

The yen was last little changed against the dollar at 148.34 per dollar. Earlier in Tuesday’s session, the greenback hit its lowest level against the Japanese currency in about two months.

In U.S. Treasuries, whose moves have been driving asset prices broadly, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield edged down to 4.41%, continuing its slide for most of November.

Trading volumes were poised to slow over the rest of the week, with the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday in the U.S.

Here are key developments that could provide more direction to markets on Wednesday:

– Singapore GDP (Q3)

– Taiwan jobless rate data (Oct)

– US weekly jobless claims

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf)