Asia stocks at 14-month high, bull run persists

Asia stocks at 14-month high, bull run persists

Hong Kong: Asian stocks rose to a 14-month high on Tuesday after strong sales numbers from Apple Inc suggested US consumers are spending more and as the weak US dollar kept pushing commodity prices higher.

Oil topped $80 a barrel and gold neared a record high, with the dollar locked in a steep downtrend as investors searched for higher returns elsewhere.

Portfolio flows into emerging market assets have been torrential, leading Brazil to slap a 2% tax on foreign investment in domestic stocks and bonds to try to cool its real currency, which has surged 36% this year.

Japan’s Nikkei share average rose 1.1%, supported largely by a mixture of stocks in the technology sector.

“These (US) results are inevitably providing a bit of a boost, particularly for parts suppliers and chip makers, while a whole range of China-linked shares are also doing well," said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments in Tokyo.

Shares of Komatsu Ltd, the world’s second-biggest maker of construction equipment, rose 2 percent after a report the company had made ¥10 billion in operating profit for the July-September quarter on demand from China and other developing markets.

The benchmark MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose more than 1%.

US stock futures rose 0.4% after profits at Apple Inc, released after the closing bell, exceeded market forecasts on record quarterly sales of iPhones and Macs.

Shares of Apple jumped 7.5% in after-hours trading to a record high. During the regular session, US stocks gained about 1% to fresh 12-month highs as investors cheered a wave of solid quarterly earnings.

Investors have been anxiously awaiting earnings season for signs that consumer demand is improving, which would reinforce the chances of a sustainable global economic recovery and give new legs to a seven-month equity rally which has been showing signs of flagging.

Company earnings in the last quarter were largely bolstered by cost cutting as opposed to a true pick-up in demand for their products.

Dollar weakness

The dollar fell to its lowest in 14 months against a basket of currencies on persisting views that policy makers in the United States will stick to a low interest rate policy for some time while they await signs that an economic recovery is on solid footing.

The dollar index, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, fell as far as 75.150, its lowest since August last year.

The euro was up 0.1% at $1.4986 but was meeting selling pressure by dealers protecting positions at the round figure of $1.50.

By contrast, minutes from a Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting earlier this month pointed to more interest rate increases ahead and said the stronger Australian dollar was a sign of improving sentiment that would help contain inflation.

The Australian dollar briefly rose above US$0.93 to the highest in 14 months before easing to $0.9293 even on the day.

US crude for November delivery rose more than half a percent to a one-year high of $80.05 a barrel its strongest since 14 October, underpinned by the ailing dollar, global recovery hopes and bullishness in equity markets.

Gold also firmed on dollar weakness, climbing 0.3% to $1,066.60 an ounce in the spot market, just shy of a record $1,070.40 hit last week.