United States housing data, political turmoil hit US$; global stocks flat

USA manufacturing production recorded its biggest increase in more than three years in April but housing starts posted a surprise fall to five-month lows.

The reports raised questions over whether obstruction of justice charges could be laid against Trump, weakening confidence in the USA president's ability to push through an aggressive stimulus program that investors had been banking on since his election last November.

USA stock market declines accelerated in afternoon trading, and major US indexes ended near session lows. S&P 500 e-mini futures dropped as much as 0.7 percent overnight before paring the slide to 0.4 percent 90 minutes before the open.

Bullion hit a two-week high as the Trump scandals and weak US economic data trimmed expectations the Federal Reserve would aggressively raise interest rates this year, pushing the USA dollar to its weakest level in six months.

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The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.39% at a six month trough of 97.72 after ending the previous session down 0.81%. Last week, Trump fired Comey, creating a firestorm inside and outside of Washington and casting doubt on his ability to pass legislation in Congress. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average [YMM7] were off 124 points, or 0.6%, while the S&P 500 futures are down 15 points, or 0.6^%. The materials sector, which include mining stocks, was the lone gainer, adding 0.6 percent partly on the back of higher gold prices. Though the White House has denied the allegation, there's mounting unease in markets over the developments in the USA government.

The market is getting nervous. Even so, US policymakers "are in the mindset to raise as long as the markets are prepared for it", he said. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is projected to report that crude stockpiles declined by 2.67 million barrels in the week ended May 12, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors fell with the only gain from utilities .SPLRCU and real estate .SPLRCR , defensive sectors with predictable if slow growth and high dividends.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index has fallen for six straight days and is down nearly 5 percent this year.

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The other manufacturers listed by Qualcomm were Pegatron Corp 4938.TW , Wistron Corp 3231.TW and Compal Electronics Inc 2324.TW . Apple has promised to indemnify the manufacturers for any damages resulting from breaching their agreements with Qualcomm .

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.6 percent to its highest level since June 2015. "Given that there are some stock indexes that have risen more than 10 percent so far this year, we may be entering a consolidation phase", said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities. The dollar bought 112.14 yen, compared with 113.12 yen on Tuesday.

The euro climbed above $1.11 overnight, and hit $1.1122, its highest level since November 9, in early European trading hours.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries slipped five basis points to 2.28 percent after dropping two basis points Tuesday. Gold futures rose 1.8 percent to $1,256.9 an ounce.

USA crude fell 0.49 percent to $48.61 per barrel and Brent was last at $51.62, down 0.39 percent on the day.

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