Asia stocks flirt with historic highs on global growth cheer



Wed, 03 Jan 2018 - 09:23 GMT


Wed, 03 Jan 2018 - 09:23 GMT

FILE PHOTO: People walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: People walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

SYDNEY - 3 January 2018: Asian stocks struck a range of new peaks on Wednesday as risk appetites were whetted by a feast of upbeat manufacturing surveys that confirmed a synchronised upturn in the world economy was well under way.

Activity was especially strong in Europe, lifting bond yields there and driving the euro to within a whisker of its highest in three years against a beleaguered U.S. dollar.

Investors also piled into emerging market trades, delivering a record peak for Philippine stocks .PSI, a 24-year top for Thailand .SETI and a decade-high for Hong Kong .HSI.

MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.4 percent, having jumped 1.4 percent on Tuesday in its best performance since last March.

At 579.46 the index is creeping ever closer to the all-time peak of 591.50 reached in late 2007.

Chinese blue chips .CSI300 gained for the fourth session running, while Japan's Nikkei .N225 was closed for holidays.

Wall Street started the new year as it ended the old, scoring another set of record closing peaks. The Dow .DJI rose 0.42 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.83 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 1.5 percent. [.N]

The gains in riskier assets came as industry surveys from India to Germany to Canada showed quickening activity.

“The breadth of the recovery is extraordinary,” said Deutsche Bank macro strategist Alan Ruskin, noting that of 31 countries covered, only three failed to show growth while all the largest manufacturing sectors improved.

“The global economy and risky assets are now solidly into a virtuous cycle, whereby growth is propelling risky assets like equities higher, that are then supporting growth,” he added.

“This is not a global economy in need of the extraordinary emergency style policies pursued by the likes of the ECB and Bank of Japan.”

Indeed, with euro zone factories expanding at their fastest pace in more than two decades, speculation is rampant that the European Central Bank will start to wind down its asset buying programme later this year.

As a result, yields on 10-year German paper DE10YT=RR climbed 4 basis points to a two-month top at 0.467 percent, which in turn pushed up rates across the European periphery.

Spanish yields, for instance, have risen 16 basis points in just three sessions to reach 1.616 percent ES10YT=RR.

The prospect that other major central banks could play catch up with the Federal Reserve on tightening undermined the dollar, which sank to a three-month trough against its peers .DXY.

The euro stretched as far as a four-month top of $1.2082 EUR=, adding to its 2017 gains of 14 percent. It was last at $1.2050 and bulls were eyeing the September peak of $1.2092, a break of which would return to ground last trod in early 2015.

The single currency has already reached a two-year high on the yen at 135.64 EURJPY=, while the dollar lagged far behind at 112.32 yen JPY=.

The weakness of the dollar has been a positive for commodities priced in the currency.

Spot gold XAU= reached its highest since mid-September at $1,321.33, before edging back to $1,313.48 per ounce.

Oil prices hit their highest since mid-2015, only to stall when major pipelines in Libya and the UK restarted and U.S production soared to the strongest in more than four decades.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were trading 3 cents lower at $66.54 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures CLc1 nudged up 1 cent to $60.38 a barrel.



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