Asia stocks extend strong 2018, dollar slips

(iStock)
(iStock)

Asian stocks are on the cusp of their best week in almost six months as investors around the world pile into equities at the start of 2018 amid robust economic data from the US to Europe to China.

Benchmark indexes in Tokyo and Sydney are in the green after US shares surged to fresh records on Thursday. The dollar is headed for a fourth straight week of losses as the global economic expansion spurs investors to look at markets with lower valuations and better risk-return prospects.

Commodities steadied after a record run of gains, with oil trading close to its highest in three years.

Treasuries initially slid early in the US session after an ADP employment report showed that private payrolls rose more than forecast in December, before paring losses into the close. Eyes now turn to Friday’s US employment report for evidence of continued momentum in the world’s largest economy.

The report is expected to show that non-farm payrolls rose 190 000 in December, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is poised to build on Thursday’s record high, while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is at a level unseen since 2011.

Here are some key scheduled events for Friday:

Asia has a smattering of lower-tier data, including inflation for Taiwan and foreign reserves data for Thailand, which has been contending with a rising currency. Europe brings German retail sales, EU CPI and French consumer confidence. Canada also reports labour market data Friday, while the US reports on trade and factory orders.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester speak on panels.

And these are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Japan’s Topix Index rose 0.6% as of 9:06 a.m. in Tokyo, and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average was up 0.5%.  Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed after the underlying gauge gained 0.4% on Thursday to a record close.

Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rallied 0.4%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.6%.

Currencies

The Bloomberg dollar index is down 0.6% for the week, trading around the lowest since September. The euro was little changed on the day, trading at $1.2069. The pound was flat at $1.3552.

The yen held at 112.79 per dollar.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 2.46%. Australia’s 10-year yield slid about two basis points in early Friday trading, to 2.66%.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 0.1% to $61.95 a barrel. Gold dipped 0.1% to $1 321.25 an ounce. The Bloomberg Commodity Index was flat on Thursday, around its highest since last February.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER
ZAR/USD
17.42
(+0.10)
ZAR/GBP
22.77
(+0.02)
ZAR/EUR
20.59
(-0.00)
ZAR/AUD
12.46
(+0.38)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.28)
Gold
1952.30
(+1.67)
Silver
27.44
(+7.13)
Platinum
960.00
(+3.27)
Brent Crude
45.32
(+2.09)
Palladium
2175.50
(+1.97)
All Share
57419.46
(+0.00)
Top 40
53082.08
(-0.08)
Financial 15
10227.06
(+0.86)
Industrial 25
75743.15
(-0.61)
Resource 10
59161.88
(+0.29)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Do you think it was a good idea for the government to approach the IMF for a $4.3 billion loan to fight Covid-19?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes. We need the money.
11% - 989 votes
It depends on how the funds are used.
74% - 6590 votes
No. We should have gotten the loan elsewhere.
15% - 1382 votes
Vote