Asia stocks rally on strong global growth

| Updated: November 23, 2017 13:55:11

An investor is reflected in a window displaying a board showing stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2017. Reuters An investor is reflected in a window displaying a board showing stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, July 17, 2017. Reuters

Asian shares joined a global rally and scaled a fresh decade peak on Wednesday as strong world growth and rising corporate profits lured hordes of investors into equities, while oil prices jumped on expectations of a production cut.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added 0.6 per cent to Wednesday’s 1.3 per cent rise - the biggest gain in eight months, supported by energy and technology sectors.

The index has been on an uptrend most of this year, posting a monthly loss only once in 2017. For the year, it is up about 33 per cent so far, on track for its best annual performance since a 68 per cent jump in 2009.

Japan's Nikkei .N2256 was up 0.8 per cent on Wednesday and South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 climbed 0.4 per cent. Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inched higher towards critical chart level of 6,000 points.

A strengthening global economy this year has fed an insatiable appetite for equities, with Asia’s trade-dependent nations enjoying robust overseas sales in a boon to corporate earnings.

“Emerging markets are flying and this is where traders are really generating outperformance,” said Chris Weston, Melbourne-based chief markets strategist at IG.

“Asia, in particular, is looking super strong,” he added. “There is a genuine chase for performance from active money managers here.”

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index .HSI is up 35.5 per cent year-to-date while China's CSI 300 .CSI300 has returned 27.4 per cent so far in 2017.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq .IXIC advanced to record closing highs on Tuesday, while the Dow .DJI set a new intra-day high.

Investors looking to eke out additional gains before the end of the year flocked to tech stocks, some fund managers said, with Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Google’s Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Amazon.com (AMZN.O) rallying.

While markets expect the Federal Reserve to hike rates next month, analysts say that is unlikely to dampen equities as financial markets remain accommodative.

The US Treasury yield curve flattened to its lowest in a decade as benign inflation and hunger for yield have supported longer-dated debt. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR have inched higher to yield 2.3559 per cent.

The 2-year Treasury, at 1.77 per cent, is at the highest since 2008 US2YT=RR and set to surpass Australia’s 2-year government bond yields AU2YT=RR for the first time since December 2000.

In currencies, the US dollar .DXY was generally on the backfoot against major rivals, falling for a second straight day on the Japanese yen JPY=.

The Australian dollar was steady around $0.7576 AUD=D4, putting a bit of distance between a five-month trough of $0.7532 plumbed overnight on dovish-sounding Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting minutes.

The euro EUR= trod water at $1.1741, drifting away from a recent one-month peak of $1.1860.

In commodities, oil prices firmed after a reported fall in US crude inventories and on expectations that an OPEC-led production cut aimed at tightening the market will be extended beyond March 2018.

US light crude CLc1 added 83 cents to $57.66 while Brent crude oil LCOc1 climbed 51 to $63.08, not far from a near 2-1/2 year peak of $64.65 touched earlier this month.

Copper futures CMCU3 extended gains for a fourth straight day, while spot gold XAU= was barely changed at $1,280.61.

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