Hong Kong: G-20 leaders convinced investors they were united enough to keep a risk-taking rally alive on Friday, lifting Asian stocks a fourth day, but the US dollar fought back from early losses ahead of the latest U.S. payrolls number due later in the day.
The perception of global policy coordination added to a growing investor optimism based on sprouts of economic recovery around the world in the last month. For example, a gauge of Chinese manufacturing in March released on Thursday reflected expansion for the first time since September 2008.
Major European stocks were expected to open slightly lower, according to financial bookmakers, as caution reigned ahead of the latest US payrolls figure due later on Friday.
Still, views on the medium-term outlook improved markedly after the Group of 20 pledged $1.1 trillion in additional funds for the International Monetary Fund and to support global trade finance.
“We expected a lot of discord between the US and UK and France and Germany with China poking its nose in as well but they seem to come out of the event as one connected group, seemingly on the same page,” said Dwyfor Evans, currency strategist with State Street Global Markets in Hong Kong.
“It implies that there is policy coordination and not policy discord,” he said.
Institutional investors have been selling US dollars and yen - which have been associated with safety and liquidity - and buying emerging market and commodity-related currencies for the last several weeks, Evans said, citing State Street’s capital flows data.
Global stock markets have been rising at a torrid pace for nearly a month now, particularly in Asia, and some dealers were talking about the need to pause and lock in some of the gains. Indeed, US stock market futures were already pointing to a slightly lower open later in the day.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan edged up 0.7% and stood more than 20% higher since late February.
Japan’s Nikkei share average was up 0.3%, after being higher for most of the session. Automaker stocks were big gainers for a third day, with shares of Toyota Motor Corp up 7% following more evidence overnight the global car market collapse could be nearing an end.
Car sales in Germany, Europe’s largest market, surged 40% in March, mainly due to government incentives to encourage drivers to trade old cars for more fuel-efficient models.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up slightly near a three-month high, after a 7% surge on Thursday. Trading volume climbed as the month-long rally sucked in more market participants - a sign the current rally may have legs.
Rebounding commodity prices fed into a 4% pop in shares of Australian miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. The benchmark S&P/ASK 200 index climbed 1.5%.
The Grand 20
The yen took an early beating against higher yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars but then fought back some, ahead of the March US employment data.
Economists were expecting payrolls shrank 650,000 in March, which would bring to 3.6 million the jobs lost in the last six months.
The euro slipped 0.2% against the yen at ¥133.98 after a choppy morning. The dollar was little changed at ¥99.50 after earlier poking above the psychologically important 100 yen level for the first time since early November 2008.
Debate was ensuing among market participants about exactly where the money to fund the G-20’s goals was going to come from and how financial regulation would take shape, but most analysts agreed that the policy response was more than they had expected.
Standard Charted strategists labelled their morning note “The Grand 20,” saying emerging market and high-yielding currencies will be supported because of actions to beef up the IMF.
However, “the initial market euphoria may yet prove to be exaggerated given that the weak economic outlook will persist for some time - today’s US payrolls numbers and US corporate earnings next week could provide a nasty reminder,” they said.
The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield rose to a 3-1/2-month high on Friday, as the Nikkei advanced.
JGB futures also touched their lowest in nearly five months.
Globally, emerging market bond returns rose 0.78% on Thursday, according to JPMorgan’s EMBI-plus performance index. The index has gained 4% since the end of February.