Asia wagers global cheer will outlive Fed tightening
Asian shares were trying to string together a fourth session of gains on Tuesday as optimism about global growth looked set to outlast an almost certain hike in US borrowing costs this week.
The latest upbeat news came from China where banks doled out a surprisingly generous dose of credit in November, which could bode well for a pick up in retail sales and industrial output due later in the week.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.06 per cent, having rallied for three days in a row.
Australian stocks added 0.2 per cent and Nikkei futures pointed to a steady start after the index scored its highest close in 25 years on Monday.
Wall Street had been led higher by technology and energy stocks, with Apple Inc making the biggest contribution. The Dow rose 0.23 per cent, while the S&P 500 added 0.32 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.51 per cent.
There was no lasting market impact from an explosion in New York's busy Port Authority commuter hub which New York Mayor Bill de Blasio described as an "attempted terrorist attack."
Investors continued their policy vigil with the Federal Reserve set to end its two-day meeting on Wednesday, while the European Central Bank meets on Thursday.
JPMorgan Economist David Hensley suspects the Fed will revise up its growth forecast while trimming the outlook for the unemployment rate, potentially adding upside risk to the "dot plot" forecasts on interest rates.
"The dot plot previously called for three hikes in 2018; it is a close call whether this moves to four hikes," he warned, a shift that would likely boost the dollar but could bludgeon bonds.
"For its part, the European Central Bank (ECB)is likely to emphasize its low-for-long stance and continue to distance itself from the Fed," he added. "The staff is likely to revise up its 2018 growth forecast, while we think the core inflation forecast will reveal an even slower recovery than before."
Rates not everything
The divergence in Fed and ECB policy was supposed to be bullish for the dollar, given it had widened the premium offered by US two-year yields over German yields to 256 basis points from 188 basis points this time last year.
The last time the spread was that plump was in 1999.
Yet the euro is currently up 12 per cent on the dollar this year, while the dollar is down 8 per cent on a basket of currencies – which just goes to prove that interest rate differentials aren't everything in forex.
Early on Tuesday the euro was steady at $1.1775 having failed to clear resistance around $1.1812 overnight. The dollar was idling at 113.54 yen, just off a one-month top of 113.69.
Dealers at Citi noted interbank volumes in the forex market had been 35 per cent below average overnight and another thin session was likely on Tuesday.
Oil prices were firm on news of a temporary shutdown of a pipeline that carries the biggest volume of the five North Sea crude oil streams.
Brent crude futures stood at $64.75 a barrel, after jumping $1.35 on Monday. US crude futures were off 2 cents in early trade at $57.97 a barrel.
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