Asian rally extends after Wall Street records


AFP

HONG KONG — The global rally in stocks pushed into another day, with Tokyo leading a surge in Asian markets Thursday following another record close on Wall Street that saw the Dow hit a historic milestone. After weeks of unease across trading floors, investors around the world have refound the optimism that fuelled a surge in the two months after Donald Trump was elected president. The latest lease of life comes after the tycoon signed a series of executive orders pushing his pro-growth agenda, including giving the green light to two huge, controversial oil pipeline deals through the United States. There are hopes he will press on with other promises to ramp up infrastructure spending, cut taxes and do away with various regulations he considers a hindrance to businesses. Added to this were a series of upbeat earnings reports from big-name firms including Boeing and United Technologies. In New York the Dow ended above 20,000 for the first time in its history, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also closed at all-time highs as investors shift back to higher-yielding investments and away from safe bets such as bonds. Asian dealers tracked their counterparts on Thursday, with Tokyo ending 1.8 percent higher. Hong Kong added 1.4 percent and Shanghai gained 0.3 percent on the last day before a week-long Lunar New Year break. Peso up on Dollar Seoul jumped 0.8 percent and Singapore 0.4 percent, while Wellington, Manila and Jakarta also pushed upwards. Sydney was closed for a public holiday. In early European trade London and Paris rose 0.3 percent while Frankfurt put on 0.5 percent. “The U.S. economy is doing well, corporate earnings are good and it looks like Mr. Trump’s policies will keep improving the economy,” Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News. “With bond yields increasing, we’re seeing gradual moves from bonds to risk assets.” The dollar recovered from recent losses against its major peers although it is struggling to break out of tight band as investors mull comments from Trump and his nominee for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that the unit is too strong and could hurt the U.S. economy. “We may have underestimated … investor sentiment towards Mnuchin and Trump’s comments on the dollar,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, in a note. “Of course, this does not mean it’s open season to sell dollars; it is certainly weighing on sentiment as there is little dollar appeal in the markets.” The U.S. unit’s general weakness also saw it tumble more than two percent against the Mexican peso despite news Trump had ordered work to begin on planning and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border The dollar bought a little more than 21 pesos Thursday, well down from the record levels above 22 pesos touched earlier this month. Key Figures around 0800 GMT Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.8 percent at 19,402.39 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,159.17 (close) Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.4 percent at 23,374.17 (close) London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,182.93 Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.0737 from US$1.0751 Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2639 from US$1.2633

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.66 yen from 113.24 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 41 cents at US$53.16 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 46 cents at US$55.54 per barrel New York – Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 20,068.51 (close)