Hong Kong: Asian stocks chalked up modest gains on Monday, while the benchmark US Treasury yield hit a six-month high in response to upbeat US data, helping shore up the dollar.
MSCI’s index for Asia Pacific stocks was last up 0.28%, while the index excluding Japan put on 0.11%, having earlier approached one-week highs.
The dollar edged up 0.24% versus a basket of major currencies . Against the yen, it rose to 84.16 , not far from a two-month high around 84.40 set recently.
The greenback was underpinned by gains in US Treasury yields, which saw the 10-year reach highs of 3.391% last seen in June.
Markets were heartened by US data on Friday which showed consumer sentiment was its best six months, and a 3.2% increase in exports, figures that pointed to a firmer economic recovery, though trading was subdued as year-end holidays approached.
“On the whole, the market is winding down and people are not inspired to put in large positions,” said Carey Wong, an investment analyst at OCBC Investment Research.
Investors also took in their stride China’s latest attempt to cool inflation and fresh vows to tackle price pressure.
So far this year, Asia Pacific stocks are up around 10%, outperforming an 8% rise in global equities .
Among the best performing assets are commodities. Industrial metal copper , which hit a record high of $9,129.50 a tonne on Monday, has gained 23% this year, and US crude oil at around $88 a barrel has risen 11% since the start of 2010.
Chinese leaders said on Sunday they will ratchet up efforts to quell inflation in 2011 in response to data showing the country’s rate of inflation soared past forecasts to a 28-month high of 5.1% in November.
Ahead of the data, the Chinese central bank raised the minimum amount of money lenders must keep in reserve for a third time in a month. Beijing, however, held back from lifting interest rates, a relief for some but a move many still expect will happen at some stage.
“I don’t see a high chance of an interest rate rise by the end of this year now,” said Huaxi Securities analyst Cao Xuefeng in Chengdu, adding this would probably help the Chinese stocks regain ground in the short term.
The Shanghai stock index rose 2.0%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index , Australia’s S&P 200 index and Japan’s Nikkei average were all up between 0.2 and 0.6%.
In Australia, investors snapped up top bank shares, relieved that reform measures to boost the banking sector, unveiled on Sunday, were no harsher than feared.
National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank posted gains of more than 1%.