London: The US dollar plumbed a 14-month low against the euro on Wednesday, sending gold prices to record highs and pushing oil up for a fifth day to a 2009 high of more than $75 a barrel.
Major European stocks rose 1.3% after bullish outlooks from Intel, the world’s biggest micro-chip company, and Dutch chip equipment maker ASML fuelled optimism that global consumer demand is picking up.
US stock futures were up 1%, indicating a higher open on Wall Street, while the MSCI all-country world stock index rose 0.8% to a new 12-month high.
For a second day, buoyant commodity prices and optimism about the technology sector propelled Asian stocks traded outside Japan to their highest levels since early August.
Improvements in Chinese export and import data for September as well as a surprising rise in its copper imports also boded well for the rest of the year, offering fresh evidence that its economy is firmly on a recovery track and that the global economy is improving, too.
“Overall, export performance will be much better in the months to come,” said Dong Tao, an economist with Credit Suisse in Hong Kong.
“I think it’s going to be sustainable and it’s going to accelerate. There are some rush orders coming to China for Christmas, so I expect probably a pretty strong rebound in November and December.”
However, there were still reasons to be cautious about near-term economic and corporate prospects.
Federal Reserve vice-chairman Donald Kohn said in a speech the recovery will not be V-shaped, healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson posted disappointing quarterly revenue and closely watched independent analyst Meredith Whitney downgraded her view on Goldman Sachs two days before the bank’s results.
Dollar weakness to persist
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 1.7% to the highest since 7 Aug 2008. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.7%, driven by energy-related shares as oil surged higher.
Japan’s Nikkei share average bucked the trend and slipped 0.25% after a five-day rising streak, with exporters hit by a stronger yen as the dollar resumed its broad slide after a few days respite.
“It’ll be hard to try above these levels until investors see apparent signs of improvement in the corporate earnings outlooks for the next business year,” said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities in Tokyo.
The dollar dropped 0.6% against the yen to ¥89.20 bringing lows below 88 yen hit earlier this month back into view.
The latest rush to buy yen and sell dollars came after Naoki Minezaki, a senior vice finance minister in Japan, told Reuters that yen strength is due to dollar weakness which will likely persist, and the government should not intervene in markets just because the yen is rising.
The euro climbed 0.2 percent to $1.4877 after earlier rising to $1.49, the highest since August 2008.
The ICE Futures US dollar index was down 0.5% on the day and has declined 14% since March, when a global equity rally signaled an economic turning point and prompted investors to shift out of safe assets denominated in dollars.
The weak dollar and perceptions that the global recovery is gathering strength have been a boost to commodity prices across the board.
US light crude for November delivery hit a fresh 2009 high of $75.15 before paring some of its gains. Brent crude was up 1.2% at $73.26
Gold prices in the spot market rose to a record high of $1,070.40 an ounce up more than 20% this year.
London copper prices rose nearly 2%, boosted by the softer dollar and the surprise surge in Chinese copper imports last month.