Thursday, July 27, 2017
Asia shares hit 2008 highs, dollar in decline on Fed inflation view
SYDNEY - Stocks, bonds and commodities were all on a roll in Asia on Thursday as bulls scented a softening in the Federal Reserve's confidence on inflation that promised to keep U.S. interest rates low for longer.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.5 percent to heights not seen since January 2008. It has gained nearly 5 percent so far this month.
South Korea added 0.6 percent and Australia 0.2 percent, while Japan's Nikkei was kept flat by a firmer yen.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index opened at 8,071.22, up 0.42 percent.
The latest rush for risk came after the Fed left U.S. rates unmoved as expected on Thursday but the market seized on tweaks in its wording on inflation.
It noted that both overall and core inflation had declined and removed the qualifier "recently", perhaps suggesting concerns the slowdown might not be temporary.
The Fed also said it expected to start winding down its massive holdings of bonds "relatively soon", cementing expectations of a September start.
While that would be an effective tightening in financial conditions it might also lessen the need for actual hikes in rates, which matter more for currency valuations.
"The dollar's biggest problem is it can't expect help from the Fed for a long time," said Alan Ruskin, global head of forex at Deutsche.
"In the short-term we are still in a risk-favorable loop, whereby subdued goods and services inflation supports a well behaved bond market and asset inflation. It's just another day in paradise."
A Reuters poll showed most primary dealers, the banks authorized to trade directly with the Fed, still see the Fed's next rate rise in December. But Fed funds rate futures are pricing in less than 50 percent chance of a hike by then, compared to more than 50 percent before the Fed's meeting.
DOLLAR BREAKS LOWER
Yields on U.S. 10-year debt duly fell 5 basis points and were last at 2.28 percent.
The dollar followed, falling to a 13-month trough against a basket of currencies at 93.370. It was last down around 0.2 percent at 93.444.
The euro, which had been bumping up against a 23-month top for most of the week, finally broke through to reach $1.1742 , its highest since January, 2015.
The next major chart target was the 200-week average at $1.1807 - a measure the euro has not traded above since August 2014.
Indeed, the dollar was fast approaching the 200-week barrier on both the Canadian and Australian dollars and breaks would be technically bearish.
The dollar even fall back on the yen to 111.04, though the damage was limited by expectations the Bank of Japan would keep its super-easy policies in place longer than most other global central banks.
The prospect of U.S. policy staying stimulative saw Wall Street's fear gauge touch a record low. The Dow ended Wednesday up 0.45 percent, while the S&P 500 added 0.03 percent and the Nasdaq 0.16 percent.
Telecoms was the best performer, propelled by a 5.0 percent gain in AT&T after its results. Boeing soared 9.9 percent after beating estimates and Amazon's market worth topped $500 billion for the first time.
The declining U.S. dollar boosted commodities priced in the currency. Spot gold hit a six-week high and was last trading at $1,262.45, while copper reached territory not trod since May 2015.
Oil prices neared eight-week highs as a surprisingly sharp drop in U.S. inventories encouraged speculation a global crude glut would recede.
A bout of profit-taking in early Asia on Thursday saw Brent crude futures ease 11 cents to $50.86 a barrel, while U.S. crude dipped 9 cents to $48.66.
(Editing by Kim Coghill)