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Asia stocks at 2-month high, dollar firm

Asia stocks at 2-month high, dollar firm
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First Published: Wed, Jan 07 2009. 10 08 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Jan 07 2009. 10 08 AM IST
Hong Kong: Asian stocks rose on Wednesday, extending their recent rally into an eighth straight day, inspired by hopes massive US government spending and tax cuts will continue to support the dollar and stimulate demand for exports.
The string of gains was the longest since October 2007, supported by a rebound on Wall Street and a steady improvement in Asian investment grade credit spreads as policymakers slash interest rates and pour capital into struggling industries to mitigate damage from the financial crisis.
Meanwhile, the US dollar was heading for a fourth day of gains against the euro, on expectations US President-elect Barack Obama will soon unveil a package of spending and tax cuts worth around $775 billion.
“US stocks, hopes for Obama, and a reversal of the broad dollar-selling positions made in December will support the dollar, possibly until Obama officially takes office later this month,” said Kengo Suzuki, a currency strategist at Shinko Securities in Tokyo.
“But the state of the US economy is so miserable. That will prompt market players sooner or later to question the wisdom of extended dollar buying,” Suzuki said.
Federal Reserve officials believed the US economy could weaken substantially further even with benchmark rates between zero and 0.25%, meeting minutes showed on Tuesday, feeding expectations of big borrowing needs at the US Treasury and weighing on long-dated government debt prices.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan was up 1.45% to the highest since early November, on track for an eighth consecutive session of gains.
The 4.1% rise in the index so far this week has exceeded the 1.5% increase on the all-country world index.
Japan’s Nikkei share average rose 2% trying to chalk up its first seven-day winning streak since one ended in April 2006.
Shares of small lenders received a boost from a newspaper report saying the government may inject money into regional banks with hopes they will be more forthcoming with loans.
An early rally in Hong Kong stocks fizzled and the Hang Seng index dipped into negative territory, weighed by a 5.2 percent drop in shares of China Construction Bank after news Bank of America is selling a stake in the firm at a discount.
US oil prices were steady just below $49 ahead of US government inventory data later in the day expected to show rises across the board, signaling weak demand in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas reached an uncertain state as the two studied an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday that won immediate backing from the United States and Europe.
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First Published: Wed, Jan 07 2009. 10 08 AM IST
More Topics: Markets | Global | Asia | Nikkei | Hang Seng |