Asian stocks rise as metals rally signals solid growth outlook

Business Wednesday 27/December/2017 12:18 PM
By: Times News Service
Asian stocks rise as metals rally signals solid growth outlook

Sydney: Asian shares rose on Wednesday with oil and copper prices rocketing to multi-year highs in an uplifting sign for global growth and inflation, while major currencies were becalmed in a holiday-shortened week.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.3 per cent to near a recent one-month top.
For the year so far, the index has surged about 32 per cent thanks to stellar corporate earnings in a strengthening global economy.
A gauge of world shares hovered near record highs, after gaining in every single month this year.
Pointing to a positive start for European and US shares, FTSE futures inched up 0.2 per cent while S&P e-mini futures and Dow minis were also a touch firmer.
The gains in Asia came as copper — widely regarded as a barometer of global growth — jumped for a ninth straight session to a 3-1/2 year peak on expectations of strong demand from China. Oil was equally robust, but it was supply fears that kept it near its highest since mid-2015.
Chinese customs data released on Tuesday showed that the country's refined copper imports leapt 19 per cent in November from a year earlier.
"My sense is that the rally in copper supports expectations that 2018 is going to be a strong year for synchronised global growth," said Greg McKenna, chief strategist at AxiTrader.
"We see there are small bets being placed for further price growth in the New Year."
The commodities rally boosted shares in resource-dependent Australia, sending the country's benchmark index to decade highs.
Mining giant BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum and gold miner Newcrest were among the top gainers.
In addition, Asian suppliers of iPhone enjoyed a stellar rebound after sliding earlier this week on a report suggesting weaker demand for iPhoneX.
Taiwan's Pegatron Corp and Hon Hai climbed more than 1 per cent, while Apple's rival Samsung Electronics rose more 2 per cent.
Commodity price pressures
In forex markets, trading was thin with most major currencies muted. The euro was up 0.2 per cent to $1.18780 and the dollar was barely changed at 113.19 yen.
The Australian dollar hit a two-month high, becoming one of the best performing major currencies this year along with the euro and the British pound.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against other major currencies, is seen ending about 9 per cent lower in 2017 as the reflation trade seen at the start of the year faded.
It is down about 3 per cent on the yen.
In commodities, Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, gave back its gains on Wednesday to trade at $66.69 a barrel. US crude was off 23 cents at $59.74 after climbing as far as $60.01.
Spot gold stayed within a striking distance of a 4-week peak at 1,282 an ounce. "I do think the commodity trade is one we need to watch," said Chris Weston, Melbourne-based chief strategist at IG.
"This is an asset class that is hot at the moment and could really dictate inflationary trends in 2018, where inflation, volatility and the US dollar hold the key to the capital markets."
Several economists have predicted the return of inflationary pressures in 2018, which would help global central banks wind down years of super-easy policies and hike interest rates.
The US Federal Reserve raised rates three times this year and is set to deliver further hikes in 2018. The European Central Bank is expected to finally begin clawing back its monetary stimulus and tighten policy after keeping the deposit rate below zero since 2014.