Hong Kong: Asian stocks hovered near a two-month high on Thursday, with expectations for continued low global interest rates and modest inflation expected to support equity markets in the near term.
Wall Street stocks finished at 17-month highs overnight and government bond yields fell after the U.S. February Producer Price Index fell more than expected, reflecting benign price pressures at the wholesale level.
Investors will be looking to US consumer inflation and jobless claims data later on Thursday for further clues on the health of the world’s largest economy.
A sustained global economic recovery and portfolio rebalancing has helped developed stock markets outperform emerging markets so far this year. But investors have been moving back into Asian markets in recent weeks, drawn by the region’s strong growth prospects.
“The near-term outlook for Asian equities is good because global growth is accelerating and we still have two quarters of good year-on-year growth in front of us,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, chief investment strategist with SJS Markets in Hong Kong.
Japan’s Nikkei share average edges down 0.2% but stays near 17-month highs.
Despite grinding deflation, Japanese companies have become far less gloomy about economic conditions than three months ago, a Reuters poll showed, implying a large improvement in the Bank of Japan’s own tankan survey next month.
MSCI’s index of Asia Pacific ex-Japan stocks was trading nearly unchanged on the day. The index has risen 8.4% since February compared with 5.2% on the all-country world index
The US dollar rebounded from a decline against higher-yielding currencies on Wednesday. The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index rose 0.2%, and remained 2.5% up on the year.
US 10-year Treasury note futures were flat while 10-year Japanese government bond futures fell to a 2-month low after the upbeat Reuters poll.
US oil futures slid 0.4% to $82.62 a barrel with the dollar a bit stronger, though staying in sight of the 2010 high of $83.95.