The Financial Express
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Asia shares eye all-time top amid global growth cheer

| Updated: January 03, 2018 15:17:37

People walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, September 22, 2017. Reuters/File Photo People walk past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, September 22, 2017. Reuters/File Photo

Asian stocks struck a decade peak on Wednesday as risk appetites were whetted by a bevy of upbeat manufacturing surveys that confirmed a synchronised upturn in world growth 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 US dollar.

Investors also piled into emerging market trades, with Philippine stocks .PSI at a record and Hong Kong .HSI also making another decade-high.

MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.4 per cent, having jumped 1.4 per cent on Tuesday in its best performance since last March. 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 had started the new year as it ended the old, scoring another set of record closing peaks. The Dow .DJI rose 0.42 per cent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.83 per cent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 1.5 per cent.

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.”

Euro zone outperforms

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 per cent, 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 per cent 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 to a four-month top of $1.2082 EUR=, adding to its 2017 gains of 14 per cent. It was last at $1.2048 and bulls were eyeing its 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 135.40 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 before edging back to $1,316.02 per ounce.

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

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were trading 2.0 cents firmer at $66.59 a barrel, while US crude futures CLc1 nudged up 6 cents to $60.43 a barrel.

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