Asian shares scale 2-week high on China optimism

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 19, 2013 06:56 hrs

Asian shares edged to a two-week high on Tuesday, riding on the previous day's hefty gains sparked by optimism over China's economic reform plans, while the dollar was hobbled by expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus a little longer.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked up 0.1 percent, adding to Monday's 1.4 percent rally fed by a sharp jump in Chinese stocks and heading for a fourth straight day of gains.

"China's reform pledge was sexier than perceived, bringing risk back into play in emerging markets including South Korea which is still comparably low valued," said Kim Yong-goo, a market analyst at Samsung Securities.

China's CSI300 Index surged 3.3 percent on Monday, its biggest one-day rise in two months, to hit a four-week peak. The index took a breather on Tuesday, slipping 0.7 percent.

Hong Kong-listed Chinese stocks advanced 0.6 percent.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei fell 0.3 percent, further moving away from a six-month high hit on Friday, with a trader saying domestic investors continued to cash in recent gains.

European shares were likely to follow the Japanese lead, with financial bookmakers expecting Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 to open down as much as 0.4 percent, ahead of the German ZEW economic sentiment survey.

The yen was up 0.1 percent at 99.885 yen to the dollar , adding to a 0.2 percent rise overnight to end a two-day run of losses.

The euro was steady at $1.35080, not too far from a two-week high of $1.3542 reached on Monday. Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar eased 0.1 percent to 80.723, languishing near a more than one-week low of 80.565 reached on Monday.

As the dollar weakened on expectations that the Fed will continue its bond-buying campaign under incoming chief Janet Yellen, the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield slipped to below 2.70 percent.

Investors remained on guard for any clues as to when the U.S. central bank will start unwinding its $85 billion-a-month stimulus programme, although many in the markets now see any move unlikely until March.

Selling in the dollar was checked, however, after optimistic comments on the U.S. economy by Fed officials on Monday.

William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said he was becoming "more hopeful" about the U.S. economy.


Investors will turn more cautious early next year as they try to front-run when the Fed will start unwinding its stimulus, said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne.

"The markets will start to front run the Fed like they did in August leading into the September meeting," he wrote in a note. "Come late January I suspect there will be a change of sentiment from fund managers and hedge funds alike as they start to predict the end and that will affect the current run."

When that happens, emerging assets would likely come under pressure after being buoyed by cheap money from central banks over the past few years.

The Indonesian rupiah was up 0.2 percent at 11,600 per dollar, still not far from a 4-1/2 year low of 11,670 touched last week, while India's rupee gained 0.3 percent to a two-week high of 62.227 to the dollar, on track for a fifth day of rises.

Overnight, U.S. stocks were mixed. The S&P 500 ended lower while the Dow Jones industrial average eked out a slight gain but failed to close above its milestone level of 16,000, as stocks sold off late in the session after cautious comments by activist investor Carl Ichan on the equities market.

Among commodities, copper prices dropped 0.7 percent to around $6,924 a tonne, hitting a three-month low. Gold dipped 0.2 percent to about $1,271 an ounce, extending the previous session's 1.2 percent slide.

U.S. crude prices came under further, down 0.3 percent to below $93 a barrel, having fallen 0.9 percent overnight to near a 5-1/2 month low of $92.51 touched last Thursday.

More from Sify: