Asian shares hit 2-1/2-month high; euro, yields up after ECB comments

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares rose to a fresh 2-1/2-month high on Thursday, supported by sound economic fundamentals, while expectations the European Central Bank (ECB) could start to wind down its stimulus boosted the euro and global bond yields.

FILE PHOTO: A visitor is seen as market prices are reflected in a glass window at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS advanced 0.4 percent to extend its gains, hitting a 2-1/2-month high for a second straight day. Japan’s Nikkei average .N225 rose 0.8 percent.

Notable gainers include the technology-heavy Taiwanese stocks, with Taiwan’s main index .TWII nearing the 27-year high of 11,270 hit on January 23. The index has rallied 4.25 percent since last Wednesday, boosted by the rally in tech stocks and the Nasdaq.

The euro EUR= held near a two-week high while Germany’s benchmark 10-year bond DE10YT=TWEB hit its own two-week high of 0.486 percent growing conviction the European Central Bank would announce as early as next week its intention to end a drawn-out stimulus program by year-end.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield US10YT=RR hit a fresh 1-1/2-week peak of 2.985 percent.

ECB Chief Economist Peter Praet said on Wednesday that robust growth made the central bank increasingly confident that inflation is on its way back to target, raising the chances it may use next week’s meeting next week to reveal more about the end of its bond-buying program.

Praet’s comments sent the euro to $1.1796 EUR=, its highest level since May 22, on Wednesday. The common currency last traded up 0.1 percent at $1.1789. The dollar index .DXY was down 0.1 percent to 93.525.

Worries over the effects of reduced ECB bond buying triggered a broad sell-off in German Bunds and other European government debt, which spilled over to Treasuries, analysts said.

Higher yields helped to lift S&P 500 financials .SPSY, which rose 1.8 percent and were the biggest percentage gainer among S&P 500 sectors.

“The U.S. 10 year Treasury yield rose alongside its eurozone peers overnight, while U.S. stocks rallied, reflecting a risk-on attitude among investors,” said Makoto Noji, senior FX/bond strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump would meet French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 summit this week.

Although Kudlow said Trump would not back down from the tough line he has taken on trade, the comments appeared to calm investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 1.4 percent to 25,146.39, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.86 percent to 2,772.35 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.67 percent to hit its record closing high of 7,689.24.

Oil prices rose on Thursday to shake off some of the previous session’s losses, supported by plunging exports from OPEC-member Venezuela.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 last traded at $75.70 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 at 65.01, each rising 0.5 percent on the day.

Copper CMCU3 hit a five-month high of $7,278.50 per ton, though the gains was driven more by supply concerns in Chile than by stronger demand.

Gold prices edged higher, with spot gold XAU= last traded at $1,297 per ounce, up 0.1 percent on the day, loosely supported by a weaker dollar amid ongoing concerns about a trade war between the United States and its allies.

India’s central bank raised its policy rate for the first time in more than four years on Wednesday, but surprised some economists by keeping its stance “neutral” instead of changing it to “tighten”.

Market participants, wary of event risk, are monitoring developments ahead of the G7 summit later this week and the U.S.-North Korea summit scheduled for next week.

Reporting by Tomo Uetake; Editing by Eric Meijer

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